- As of April 24, there are only a handful of passengers still at sea
- Cruises have been a hotbed of COVID-19 cases for months
- Cases continue to mount as people remain sequestered on board
Months after the coronavirus pandemic began, thousands of people were still stranded on cruise ships, awaiting the all-clear to disembark and head home from their longer-than-anticipated vacations. But by April 24, only a handful of passengers was still stuck at sea, according to Business Insider.
In early February, confirmed cases of COVID-19 spread on a cruise ship called the Diamond Princess. The cruise ship, which began with only 10 cases of the virus, had more than 700 coronavirus infected passengers within a few weeks. Officials locked down the ship soon after learning of its first case, leaving passengers and crew members stranded on board. For the next 14 days, everyone on board was in quarantine.
Similar measures were taken with other cruise ships, some of which were still quarantined for weeks afterward, and cruise lines were shouldering some of the blame for various COVID-19 outbreaks.
Thousands of people were still stuck at sea after government officials in various countries refused to allow them to dock and disembark passengers. The Greg Mortimer, a ship belonging to an Australian cruise company, was anchored off the coast of Uruguay for nearly two weeks as almost 60% of the passengers tested positive for the virus.
The Coral Princess, after more than a month away, began offloading passengers in Miami in early April. Several dozen passengers still remained on board as of April 8. Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line, still had 6,000 people at sea as of April 1.
On April 20, the Costa Deliziosa completed its 15-week global cruise that started before the spread of the pandemic, and passengers began disembarking in Spain. Nobody on board reportedly was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
But by April 24, some of the last cruise ship passengers in the world still stuck at sea were on the MV Artania, based out of Germany. Three passengers and one crew member from that ship died from the coronavirus.
In April, the U.S. Coast Guard had directed all cruise ships to remain at sea, according to CBS. They could remain there “indefinitely” during the virus’ continued spread. Several ships hoping to dock were turned aside, including one in Florida. More than two dozen ships had to linger off the southern state’s coast.
Meanwhile, cruise operators were informed that severely ill passengers needed to be sent to the countries where the cruise ships are registered. Many cruise lines have made it a practice to avoid registering under the U.S. to avoid federal taxes and strict regulations. Three of the biggest cruise lines—Disney, Celebrity, and Carnival — are currently registered in the Bahamas, Malta, and Panama, respectively.