When Will Cruise Ship Crew Members Go Home?

Perhaps one of the groups most lost in the nation’s coronavirus analysis is cruise ship workers. Many of them U.S. citizens, reports indicate that up to 100,000 crew members are stranded aboard cruise ships across the world. The ships face numerous challenges to disembarking the workers, from stringent CDC guidelines to closed cruise ship ports.

CBS Local Chicago recently profiled a cruise worker who is currently stuck aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship and has been unable to leave the ship for the past 54 days. Erika Monet Butters and her husband are both aboard the ship, which is currently off the coast of the Bahamas. The vessel, and its hundreds of crew members, are unable to disembark due to “all this paperwork that needs to be filed and approved between the CDC and the cruise line,” Butters said. 

The ship on which Butters is confined reportedly has a significant testing protocol, including daily temperature checks. Apparently the combination of these stringent health checks and the Princess’ doing its part to comply with CDC requirements has resulted in the ship being granted permission to port. The CBS Chicago report indicates that the Emerald Princess has received approval to port on Saturday, after what will have been 56 days at sea. 

But the Emerald Princess is just one of dozens of ships that are currently looking for a way to repatriate their workers. Workers aboard other ships have also been given disembarkation announcements, only to have the plans change at the last minute. It is clear that the process of repatriating cruise ship crew will likely take months, and will be a rocky process.