The Carnival Fantasy has sent almost half of its crew home due to the COVID-19 crisis, as the ship continues to sail back and forth between Mobile’s port and the open sea.
Carnival Cruise Line has begun debarking “healthy” crew members, “who are not essential to the operation of the ship” from all its ships, including the Fantasy, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen confirmed in an email Tuesday afternoon. Those crew members are being flown home on chartered flights as they are able to be scheduled.
“Crew members who are debarking the vessel have been cleared to fly by our medical team, the airline transporting them and by immigration authorities,” Gulliksen wrote. “All crew members have had their temperature taken daily while on board over this past month, and again during debarkation when they are signing off.”
There are roughly 500 crew members remaining on board or the 900 or so that are typically on board for a cruise. Those crew members will remain on the ship in order to maintain the “safe operation of the vessel,” the City of Mobile’s Senior Director of Transportation and Maritime Military Liasion Joe Snowden wrote in an email Wednesday morning.
All of Carnival’s ships, including the Fantasy, have been docked at various ports or have remained at sea since mid March. Snowden told Lagniappe the Fantasy spends most of its time anchored offshore but comes back to port every five to seven days based on supply needs.
“The Carnival Fantasy comes to the Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal to receive water, supplies, food, equipment, mail, and to allow crew to fly back to their homes,” he wrote. “It is actually more cost effective for this vessel to remain at sea than to remain pier side. That is why they are going back out to sea so often.”
Snowden did note that the Fantasy’s crew follows a strict protocol to eliminate all contact with shore personnel and prevent the spread of COVID-19 including wearing (personal protective equipment) and disinfecting anything that’s brought on board.
The crew are not allowed off the ship at port, Snowden wrote, unless they are scheduled to fly home.
“When they (disembark) to fly home, they are loaded on charter buses and taken straight to the airport,” he wrote.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the cruise industry as a whole and Carnival is not the only cruise line dealing with how to efficiently remove crew from ships that are oftentimes anchored off the coast.
Like many other cruise lines, Carnival has notified potential customers that all sailings have been cancelled through at least June 26 due to the virus pandemic.
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