In the avenue of ocean that stretches south from Miami to Cuba and northeast to the Bahamas, dozens of cruise ships sail back and forth. Every so often, they come into Florida ports to refuel and restock. Otherwise, they wait. With workers on board..still..
The crew members on board — many no longer receiving paychecks — wait for news about when they will return home and see their families again. Two months after the cruise industry shut down amid repeated COVID-19 outbreaks on ships, more than 100,000 crew members remain trapped at sea with little reliable information about what will happen to them.
While most passengers were able to get off cruise ships by early April, crew members have largely remained stuck. During the prolonged isolation, the virus continued to spread through the ships. At least 578 crew contracted COVID-19 at sea and seven have died.
At least two crew members have leaped overboard in apparent suicides. On May 10, a 39-year-old crew member from Ukraine on the Regal Princess ship died after jumping overboard while the ship was anchored off Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Likely no one imagined the situation would become so dire.
Some companies with ships near Florida have chosen not to send crew home from the U.S. on expensive charter flights that come with a complex web of legalities. Instead, they have opted to transport them on ships or wait until Caribbean airports open.
(photo Getty Images)