Cruise ship crew members disembarking in San Diego to fly to Barbados
The Celebrity Millennium and Eclipse cruise ships, which have been in San Diego since late March, were to disembark more than 340 crew members Wednesday so that they can take private chartered flights to the Caribbean as part of an effort to return them to their homes.
While the two ocean liners departed San Diego nearly two weeks ago for Puerto Vallarta where they had planned to disembark some crew members, that never happened and the ships have since returned, according to the Port of San Diego. Even with the departure of 62 crew members on the Millennium and 284 on the Eclipse, hundreds more remain, confined to the ships ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order in mid-March.
None of the departing crew members were reported to have COVID-19 symptoms.
Also still in San Diego is the Disney Wonder, also with hundreds of crew aboard. The three ships, over the last couple of months, have been alternatively docked at the B Street Pier alongside the Embarcadero or in the outer anchorage area off the San Diego coastline. While several hundred crew members had previously headed home on flights to the United Kingdom, Brazil and Indonesia, efforts to return many more have stalled in recent weeks.
The two Celebrity ships on May 8 had set out to Puerto Vallarta where the cruise line had made arrangements to disembark some of the crew, said port spokeswoman Brianne Page. Celebrity did not inform the port as to why it was unable to get crew members off the ships, she said.
The plan for Wednesday was to have Eclipse crew members leave the ship from the B Street Pier, while the Millennium, which was anchored off the coastline, was to have its departing personnel leave via shore boats to the Harbor Police Dock at Shelter Island. All were then to be taken by private buses to the San Diego International Airport to board private charter flights to Barbados, Page explained.
Once in Barbados, all of the crew members will be taken by private vehicles, while maintaining social distancing, to Celebrity sister ships, Serenade of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas, where they will await chartered flights to take them back to their home countries, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Once the men and women are flown home, there will still be 480 crew members on the Millennium and 695 on the Eclipse. On the Wonder, there are still more than 700 personnel on board.
Crew members have been stranded on ships around the world amid the abrupt halt of sailings in March. The CDC no-sail order remains in place until well into July, and many cruise lines have canceled sailings to certain destinations through the end of the year.
San Diego’s cruise season is scheduled to resume in the fall and so far, most of those scheduled sailings have not been canceled.