Carnival Cruise Line is finalising plans to repatriate more than 10,000 crew members using nine of its ships.
Eighteen Carnival vessels will meet up in the Bahamas over the next several days with half of the ships chosen for the repatriation mission to help staff who remain onboard due to air travel restrictions to Asia, Africa, Europe, India and Latin America.
The ships have been based in various US homeports provisioning supplies and bunkering fuel for their journeys.
Certain crew will join vessels using water shuttles in the Bahamas and, once the operation is completed, the nine ships will sail to their destinations with crew members from North American-based ships onboard.
The remaining nine vessels will spend most of their time in anchorage positions in the Bahamas or Panama and eventually all ships will reduce their crew numbers to safe operational manning levels.
Carnival said crew members who will be returning home had undergone a health check and cleared fit for travel by its medical team, while the company has been “working closely with immigration officials in arriving countries on an efficient debarkation process”.
“All crew have their temperature taken daily and will do so again during the debarkation process, and follow enhanced operational protocols to ensure the health and safety of the crew,” the line added.
Ahead of Carnival’s pause in operations on 13 March, its fleet of 27 ships had nearly 29,000 crew members onboard.
Since then, Carnival has already repatriated more than 10,000 crew via flights. Around 6,000 additional crew will be repatriated by air charters or three ships that have already departed from Australia and Long Beach.
By the time all repatriation movements are completed, Carnival’s fleet will be down to approximately 3,000 crew members identified for safe operational manning, plus several hundred “that will be repatriated as quickly as possible”, the line said.
Carnival president Christine Duffy said: “The safety and wellbeing of our team members continues to be a top priority. Given the pause in our operations, we are committed to getting our crew members safely home to their families.
“We sincerely thank them for their hard work, patience and understanding during this process. We would also like to thank the government of the Bahamas for their support of this operation, as well as the CDC, US Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection and local port agencies.”