Some 18 Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) ships were due to meet in The Bahamas over the coming days.
This move forms part of final plans currently underway to use nine ships to repatriate more than 10,000 crew members.
They have remained on board the 18 ships, due to restrictions limiting air travel to Asia, Africa, Europe, India and Latin America.
The ships have visited their various US homeports taking on supplies and bunker fuel for their journeys, CCL said.
Some of the crew will join the ships using water shuttles off the The Bahamas coast. Once the transfer is completed, the nine ships will sail with North American-based ships crew members on board.
The remaining nine ships will sail to anchorage positions in The Bahamas or Panama and eventually all ships will have their crew numbers reduced to safe operational manning levels.
“The safety and well-being of our team members continues to be a top priority. Given the pause in our operations, we are committed to getting our crew members safely home to their families. We sincerely thank them for their hard work, patience and understanding during this process. We would also like to thank the government of The Bahamas for their support of this operation, as well as the CDC, US Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection and local port agencies,” said Christine Duffy, CCL President.
Crew members who will be returning home have undergone health checks and cleared fit for travel by CCL’s medical team. The company said that it had been working closely with immigration officials in the arriving countries on an efficient disembarkation process.
All crew members sailing on the nine ships will have their temperature taken daily and will do so again during the disembarkation process, and follow enhanced operational protocols to ensure their health and safety.
Prior to CCL halting operations on 13th March, its 27 cruise ships had nearly 29,000 crew members on board. Since then, Carnival has repatriated more than 10,000 crew via flights and another 10,000 will be sailing on the nine ships. Another 6,000 will be repatriated by air charters or on board three ships that have already departed from Australia and Long Beach.
By the time the sailings are complete, CCL’s fleet will be down to around 3,000 crew members identified for safe operations, plus another several hundred that will be repatriated as quickly as possible, the cruise line said.