For well over a month we have been blogging about the plight of cruise ship crew members, who have been stuck aboard the ships on which they work. Local authorities have been hesitant to allow the workers to leave the ships in order to repatriate back to their home countries due to fears that they may be ill with coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has given the cruise companies guidelines that they must follow in order to disembark their workers from the ships, and up until now, the major cruise companies have refused. But now Royal Caribbean is signaling that it will follow the CDC’s guidance.
MiamiHerald.com reports that top Royal Caribbean official Michael Bayley and top Celebrity Cruises official Lisa Lutoff-Perlo have announced that they will sign on to the CDC’s repatriation plan. Celebrity Cruises is owned by Royal Caribbean.
The agreement is a significant step, as there is an estimated 100,000 crew members currently stranded aboard cruise ships of the major cruise lines.
The CDC plan requires cruise companies to ensure that their employees move safely from the ships to private transportation and do not mix with the public or use public transportation in the process. Essentially, the cruise companies must take responsibility for their employees’ journeys home from beginning to end.
At first, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity executives refused to sign the agreement. In a letter to staff, quoted by the Miami Herald article, Bayley said:
“The CDC will only allow us to disembark crew members if company executives, myself included, are willing to attest — subject to criminal penalties including imprisonment — that we will not use any public transportation and that each crew member will comply with certain conditions after disembarking the ships. We are happy to do all the things they requested, but the criminal penalties gave us [and our lawyers] pause.”
The article asserts that the threat of criminal penalties will be removed from the final agreement.