Thousands of cruise ship employees are soon expected to disembark for the first time in months, after agreements between major cruise companies and the CDC. Since Monday, May 4, the CDC has agreed to let a total of 2352 cruise ship crew members disembark from liners in the USA after the shipowners agreed to strict transfer guidelines that prevent the crews from interacting with any public members, staying in hotels or taking commercial flights.
The rules hold corporate executives criminally liable in case any of the employees don't follow the requirements.
NCLH-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings employees (from the fleets of NCL-Norwegian, Oceania and RSSC-Regent) make up the majority of the approved this week with a total of 1308, followed by DCL-Disney Cruise Line (1031 employees), according to CDC. The remaining 13 are from RCI-Royal Caribbean.
According to Jonathon Fishman, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, the company had already disembarked over 12,000 crew through direct sailings, charter flights, and commercial flights, and "thousands more" were going home in the coming weeks.
According to Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival Corporation, the company had recently submitted their proposal into the CDC and had been "awaiting its feedback and response." Frizzell added they had already repatriated thousands of crew via air charter and on their ships, to their respective home countries.
Thousands of workers have been stuck on cruise ships since at least mid-March when the Coronavirus brought travel to a halt. On March 14, the CDC announced its first No Sail order, preventing new passengers from getting on cruise liners in the USA. The order was expanded on April 15 to prevent the crew from disembarking at US ports.
Many of the crew have stopped working and are not being paid. There is little official information about which cruise vessels have been overtaken by the virus.