Cruise Lines Send Crew Members Home
The cruise lines are being challenged with how to handle the crew aboard their ships in the face of the continuing public health crisis. Initially, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced the suspension in operations, the lines had maintained their crews.
Now as the suspension is extended many of the cruise lines are quietly working to repatriate non-essential crew members from the ships.
Worldwide there are approximately 300 ocean-going cruise ships with over 200,000 crew members, with the largest portion in North America.
Currently, it is estimated that there are 52,000 crew members aboard 73 cruise ships either moored or anchored in or near U.S. ports, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Of that number, 35 cruise ships are in Florida with 35,000 crew members, while the others are in ports on the Gulf Coast and California.
“Obviously it is not an easy task to suddenly send crew members home as they are from many different geographical locations throughout the world,” says C. Patrick Scholes, an analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “Bottom line, this is an industry under extreme financial pressure and the cruise lines have to find any way to cut costs, this being one such method.”
International travel restrictions have been complicating these efforts. Commenting on what these efforts might mean for the cruise industry’s future, analyst Scholes said, “It signals that these ships are not about to start sailing with customers anytime soon. Not having adequate staffing will make it harder to quickly resume sailings.”
The same travel restrictions that are complicating the efforts to de-crew the ships may make it difficult to bring the ships back into service.