MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Cruise ships have been under a no sail order by the CDC since March 14th, but many crew members are still stuck at sea.
“There’s 10 Americans on board,” said Taylor Bracey, a backstage production manager for cruise entertainment on Sky Princess, which is a Princess Cruise, owned by Carnival Corporation. “About 1300 other crewmembers.”
Bracey’s current contract with the cruise ship has already ended. She hasn’t been on land since March 10th.
“I felt safe when they disembarked all the passengers,” said Bracey. “Since then it’s been no real cause for concern. [Everybody’s] pretty healthy.”
On the cruise, crew members are required to adhere to CDC guidelines.
Bracey is thankful that her company is doing all it can to keep crew members safe on board while efforting to get them home.
However, she feels frustrated by all the obstacles posed by some guidelines, sharing a passionate post on Facebook:
“The 10 of us, as well as many other Americans in our fleet and organization, are being denied entry into our own country. I have been working on a contract with Princess Cruises since January, and I haven’t been able to leave the vessel in over 40 days due to the COVID-19 crisis. We last disembarked passengers on March 14th, and since that time we have been able to dock one time and received supplies on barge once before our arrival in Port Everglades, FL today. I know myself and many of my colleagues have reached out to local government officials but we need to find a way to be heard so we can come home. I’ve never felt so abandoned by my country, and we are basically being left to float at sea until we are allowed to come home. I’m thankful for all of the effort that Princess Cruises has made on our behalf to get us home and the job they continue to do to keep us safe and well.”
A fellow American crew member, Dan Domenech, shared similar sentiments:
“The CDC is preventing any of us from disembarking the ship even though we are all healthy, fit and the majority of us are ready to return safely to our homes.
Princess Cruise lines shoreside and our crew onboard have done everything in their power to make sure that we have stayed safe and healthy. They’ve exhausted all their options in compliance with the CDC to disembark Americans yet we are still getting rejected.”
According to an order from the CDC, a cruise ship operators must ‘transport those disembarking directly to non-commercial transportation, which includes industry-chartered private transport, industry-chartered private flights, or personal vehicles (no rental cars, taxis, or ride-share services). Cruise line operators must further guarantee non- commercial transportation to their respective homes or new duty stations consistent with all applicable laws and guidance. Those include, but are not limited to, national, federal, state, and local public-health guidance as well as state and local stay-at-home orders.’
Cruise ship operators must also notify authorities with jurisdiction for the port of disembarkation. The order states: ‘The cruise ship operator must provide to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control the notifications to local and state health authorities as well as the responses from those authorities clearly stating that they have no objections to the planned disembarkation and travel.’
According to a spokesperson with Princess Cruises, they were providing charter flights for crew members and now will coordinate private cars or motorcoaches, to follow the CDC guideline for disembarkment of crewmembers.
Bracey, who is from Las Vegas, isn’t sure when she’ll finally get home.
“If I can’t go home to my own country during something like this where I can go?” wondered Bracey.
Carnival Cruise Line also has 27 ships docked at homeports or anchored at sea since mid-March with only crew members aboard.
A spokesperson said a majority of the crew members are from countries outside the United States, so efforts to get them home involve using ships as transportation. Carnival covered flights for crew members who did get flights home.
In a statement to CBS4, the spokesperson said:
‘Carnival Cruise Line is committed to taking care of our team members and getting them home to their families. As always, we will continue to maintain social distancing and other protocols that have proven effective to promote the health and safety of our crew.’
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