Michelle Joly and Jonah Danniels pose in this recent handout photo. Canadians working aboard two cruise ships who weren’t allowed to come to shore because of concerns about COVID-19 are finally able to return home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Michelle Joly

Michelle Joly and Jonah Danniels pose in this recent handout photo. Canadians working aboard two cruise ships who weren’t allowed to come to shore because of concerns about COVID-19 are finally able to return home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Michelle Joly

Canadians who work on two cruise ships are being allowed off in U.S. ports

About 80,000 crew members remained on board ships off the U.S. coast after most passengers had disembarked

Canadians working aboard two cruise ships who weren’t allowed to come to shore because of concerns about COVID-19 are finally able to return home.

Princess Cruises said in an emailed statement that 19 Canadians on the Koningsdam disembarked in Los Angeles on Friday, and that they would be flown or driven home by the company.

The cruise line said another 53 Canadians were scheduled to leave the Emerald Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday and would head to Miami where they would board a chartered flight to Toronto.

“We’re in Toronto and feeling great even though it’s snowing,” Michelle Joly, a singer with the company, said in a phone interview Saturday after her charter flight arrived from Florida.

Approximately 99 U.S. crewmembers are also being allowed to leave both vessels, the company said.

The crew on the Emerald Princess had hoped to leave the ship in Nassau, Bahamas, earlier this week, only to be left disappointed.

Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Katherine Cyr said in an email that the Canadian government had a WestJet flight lined up to return 29 Canadians from Nassau on Tuesday and that the plane was also going to bring home Canadian crew members on cruise ships in the region.

“Despite our best efforts, cruise ship companies were not able to secure approval to disembark in time for the flight,” Cyr said.

Leah Prasad, whose husband works as a senior maitre d’, said she was shaking when she learned the crew were finally being allowed off the ship in Florida, particularly after their hopes were dashed in the Bahamas.

“You’re on such a high that he’s going to come home and he was very excited to be coming home. And then you find out that none of the crew are getting off,” Prasad said speaking from Cloverdale, B.C., noting that no one on board was sick.

READ MORE: Canadians aboard COVID-19 stricken cruise ship to start coming home today

As cases of the novel coronavirus and related deaths have risen worldwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials in other countries have expanded the list of conditions that must be met before crews may disembark.

The conditions include taking each crew member straight home via charter plane or private car, and the CDC requires company executives to agree to criminal penalties if crew fail to obey health authorities’ orders on their way home.

Joly said her first two weeks with only crew on board were sweet. She was performing aboard the Sky Princess when all the passengers were offloaded on March 14, and she said she continued to perform every second night for her fellow crewmembers.

“We felt like we were having our own mini vacation. We were allowed to utilize a lot of the guest areas that we wouldn’t normally use, like the pools, and the pizza and burger place was open,” said Joly.

That changed on April 1 when they had to go into self-quarantine and were confined to their cabins, only being allowed out for brief periods, such as for meals. Then she was transferred to the Emerald Princess on April 26, she said.

Prasad, meanwhile, said her husband had been working on the Carnival Ecstasy and continued working after passengers left the vessel in mid-March, right up until his tour was done April 15. After that, there were strict protocols for leaving cabins for meals and fresh-air breaks, and he was eventually transferred to the Emerald Princess.

Much of the time Joly said the ships were anchored off the Bahamas, but they docked every couple of weeks in Florida for supplies.

The CDC said last month that about 80,000 crew members remained on board ships off the U.S. coast after most passengers had disembarked.

Both Joly, who will quarantine for two weeks at her brother’s in St. Paul, Alta., and Prasad’s husband, who will reunite with his wife in B.C., were spending Saturday night in isolation in a Toronto hotel.

“Everyone was clapping and cheering when we finally touched land,” Joly said about when the crew disembarked.

“Let me tell you I’m happy to be out even though I have to go in quarantine now for two weeks.”

—With files from AP

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusCruise ShipsCruises

Just Posted

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Comox Valley artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Katie Kroeker, president of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said she is confident that Peninsula businesses “are going above and beyond in their Covid prevention measures” in being eager to welcome tourists and visitors to Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island business leader questions wisdom of limiting inter-provincial travel

Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president Katie Kroeker says manage, don’t shut down

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Most Read