Crew members remain stuck on cruise ships off Florida coast

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - While customers who were stuck on cruise ships have returned home, thousands of crew members remain stuck aboard their ships.

Taylor Courtney had been hired as a show performer on the Regal Princess but has instead been stuck for weeks aboard with no one to entertain.

Courtney said, “Not working, not having passengers, not having access to land or to free internet or whatever. It’s been really tough. It’s lonely.”

While her ship has had no cases of the virus, she has not been able to obtain permission to disembark.

“It actually didn’t occur to me that even U.S. citizens would be blocked to get into our own country. That’s what we’ve found in the last few weeks,” she said.

While most crew members are from America, most are from other parts of the world.

Celebrity Cruise Lines has been sued by crew members over parties and performances that were held aboard their ships after social distancing guidelines were already in effect.

Alexandra Needlecheva said, “During that time, when everybody was talking about social distancing, they organized a group party.”

The cruise line said they are doing the best they can for their employees. Monday night, a spokesperson issued a statement that reads:

“We are aware that two American crew members onboard Regal Princess had requested to meet with Customs and Border Protection upon arrival in Port Everglades on April 20, 2020, to disembark the ship. Given the healthy status of the ship’s crew, we advocated with the unified command center authorities in Broward County, Florida on their behalf and were successful in securing approval for them to disembark.

There are currently restrictions imposed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) No Sail Order, prohibiting the disembarkation of cruise ship crew members in U.S. ports.  We will continue to work with the CDC to complete the repatriation of our American crew members as soon as possible.

The company has repatriated thousands of our global team mates who come from over 100 countries around the world. Our entire company  remains committed and focused in their efforts to return all our teammates safely home to their loved ones. However, due to international air travel and government restrictions along with cruise ports that are essentially closed, our repatriation planning continues to be an extremely challenging and complex operation.”

Courtney’s family was waiting at Port Everglades on Monday, hoping to get her home as soon as possible.

“So close, yet so far. That’s absolutely right,” she said.

Courtney’s captain called her in the middle of an interview with 7News.

Only an hour later, she was allowed off the ship and is beginning a two-week quarantine.

The ship will head to Europe so that European crew members can go home.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.