As countries try to secure their borders in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic, several cruise ships are stranded at sea. The cruise lines are struggling to find a place to dock, with many countries denying a permit to disembark.
In recent days, due to the fears of the novel coronavirus, the cruise lines are facing a humanitarian crisis. The vessels operated by Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and several other big brands have been turned away from ports.
The 2,736-passenger Norwegian Jewel tried docking in New Zealand and Fiji but failed, and the 670-passenger Pacific Princess faced denial at multiple ports across the Indian Ocean and Asia. Some other vessels that are facing the same fate include the 2,852-passenger Celebrity Eclipse, the 684-passenger Azamara Pursuit, and the 1,250-passenger Marina. The Princess ship in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Princess, also hasn’t been allowed to dock anywhere for days.
Zane Kerby, the president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) said in a statement that this was a disturbing and anti-humanitarian trend. Kerby highlighted that the exclusions were taking place even for ships with passengers on board, not showing any symptoms of coronavirus. The situation is worrisome for friends and family of passengers, who are urging governments and politicians to help.
In an extreme scenario, British line P&O Cruises would have to voyage for over three weeks with 2,388-passenger Arcadia from Africa to the U.K. This is after South Africa denied disembarking in Cape Town.
Norwegian Cruise Line is facing trouble with Norwegian Jewel, and 1,996-passenger Norwegian Spirit that is being turned away from several ports in the Indian Ocean. Norwegian had been hopeful that Hawaii would allow the ship to unload passengers. However, the State of Hawaii recently announced that it would not allow passengers on the vessel to disembark. In some cases like Silversea ships, with some passengers tested positive for coronavirus, it’s unclear how or when passengers would be allowed off the vessels.
The industry’s peak body, Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA), said it was working with federal and state governments as cruising lines brought their vessels back to port.