There are currently approximately 100,000 ship crew members stuck on ships across the world, prevented from disembarking the ships and going home due to concerns that they may be sick with coronavirus. Though cruise company executives have been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about repatriating the workers to their home countries, the talks have reportedly met difficulty in an agreement.
MiamiHerald.com reports that different cruise industry officials have talked with the CDC about the repatriation process, and the CDC informed the officials that they could repatriate the workers by private transportation so long as the cruise companies would be held accountable for the process. This has apparently been a sticking point for many ships.
The report recounts the plight of 24-year-old Julia Whitcomb who works aboard the Celebrity Infinity. Earlier this week ship officials told her to pack her bags, that she was finally going home after having been held aboard the ship for weeks longer than planned. But before her disembarkation from the ship Human Resources called her and said that the company's legal team would not agree to the CDC's terms for the repatriation of the ship's workers, and she would not be going home after all. Celebrity is owned by cruise giant Royal Caribbean.
MiamiHerald.com reports that Carnival owned Holland America did something similar as well, opting to send its cruise ship Oosterdam to sea instead of disembarking those aboard. The report quotes CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed as saying, “Holland America nor Carnival provided the attestation despite requests from CDC...The refusal of Holland America and Carnival executives to attest to safe disembarkation conditions is the reason why CDC did not approve disembarkation for the Oosterdam crew.”