Apr 30, 2020 - Health

American cruise ship workers denied disembarkation at Los Angeles

An undated image of the Holland American Lines cruise ship Oosterdam in San Diego Harbor. Photo: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Americans are among thousands of cruise ship workers stuck at sea because of a CDC order issued in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. But the CDC says it's up to cruise liners to ensure they meet the legal safety requirements during the pandemic.

The big picture: The CDC said in its No Sail Order extension announcement on April 9 that the Coast Guard was monitoring some 120 cruise ships in U.S. waters with nearly 80,000 crew members on board and this is still the case, per CBS News, which reported Wednesday 132 Americans were "marooned on cruise ships owned by Carnival Cruise Line companies" — including nine aboard the Oosterdam who were denied disembarkation at Los Angeles Tuesday.

Details: The American crew on the Holland America Line ship appealed for help after they were prevented from going to L.A., according to USA Today, which notes the Oosterdam's passengers left the vessel in March and that there were no coronavirus cases on the ship.

  • Some of the staff have been on the liner that docked at the Port of San Pedro since Feb. 21, crew member Melinda Mann, from Georgia, told Fox 11.
  • "I'm not sick. I've offered to take a COVID test. I've offered to quarantine for 2 weeks ashore, but the CDC won't let us in, and our ship is trying everything they can to get us home," Mann told the news outlet.

What they're saying: The CDC told Fox 11 under the No Sail Order, "cruise lines must develop and implement a comprehensive plan to prevent, detect, respond, and contain COVID-19 on cruise ships for both passengers and crew." It noted the disembarkations were approved for other cruise lines that met these requirements in the past two weeks.

  • "The refusal of Holland America and Carnival executives to attest to safe disembarkation conditions is the reason why CDC did not approve disembarkation for the Oosterdam crew," the CDC said. "In conversations with CDC, an official of the companies complained that arranging nonpublic transportation for its disembarking crew was too expensive."
"Because Holland America and Carnival failed to provide the safety attestation, disembarkation would have violated the No Sail Order and federal laws. ... Rather than comply with the No Sail Order and disembark its American crew, the Oosterdam departed. CDC has an obligation to ensure that cruise disembarkations do not harm public health. CDC stands ready to fulfill that obligation and authorize disembarkation as soon as Holland America and Carnival assure local, State, and Federal health authorities that the companies have taken sufficient precautions."  
— CDC statement to Fox 11

The other side: Holland America said in a statement to news outlets that "no crew were permitted to disembark from Oosterdam" on Tuesday and the firm was continuing to work with the CDC "to obtain approval to disembark crew in the U.S. for immediate return home under their current No Sail Order which does not allow us to do so at this time, including for U.S. citizens."

"We are working to repatriate thousands of crew who come from over 100 countries around the world. Our entire company remains focused on returning them safely home to their loved ones as soon as possible."
— Holland America statement

Go deeper: Carnival CEO defends coronavirus response

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