Canadians working aboard two cruise ships, who have been prevented from coming ashore due to COVID-19 concerns, have finally been allowed to return home.
Global Affairs Canada said Saturday that 18 Canadians and one permanent resident on Holland America’s Koningsdam disembarked and had left Los Angeles on Friday.
Several dozen others left Princess Cruises’s Emerald Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday and headed to Miami where they boarded a chartered flight to Toronto, according to statements from the government and the cruise line. Global Affairs said the group included 49 Canadian citizens and five permanent residents.
Earlier this week in Nassau, Bahamas, crew members from Canada aboard the Emerald Princess were told to prepare to be flown home in a charter plane, but the Bahamian government did not allow the ship to dock.
Global Affairs said the Canadian government continues to work with airlines, cruise lines and foreign governments to bring Canadians home.
“We encourage Canadian crew members on cruise ships who are experiencing difficulties in returning to Canada to contact the closest Canadian consulate or embassy, or Global Affairs Canada headquarters, to request consular assistance,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Approximately 99 U.S. crew members were also allowed to leave both ships, Princess Cruises said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that about 80,000 crew members remained on board ships off the U.S. coast after most passengers had disembarked. There are hundreds of Canadians on dozens of ships yet to return home.