Canadian cruise ship workers who have been stranded by the new coronavirus pandemic have returned to Canada, said the country’s foreign minister.
In a tweet Saturday, François-Philippe Champagne said officials had worked with American authorities and the cruise lines Holland America, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruises to help the Canadians return.
READ MORE: Thousands of crew still stranded on cruise ships begging to leave
He added that officials “continue to work with cruise lines and local authorities to ensure the safe return of the remaining Canadian crews”.
Over the past two days, we have worked with @HALcruises @PrincessCruises @CarnivalCruise and the American authorities to assist in the return of 75 Canadian crew members. We continue to work with cruise lines and local authorities to ensure the safe return of the remaining Canadian crews. pic.twitter.com/G1SKAOkmIa
– François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) ?? (@FP_Champagne) May 9, 2020
In a press release to The Canadian Press, Princess Cruises said 19 Canadians aboard the Koningsdam had landed in Los Angeles, California on Friday and would either be flown or taken home by the company.
The cruise line says 53 more Canadians are scheduled to leave the Emerald Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday and head to Miami for a charter flight to Toronto.
About 99 American crew members are also authorized to leave the two ships, the statement said.
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National and local governments have prevented crews from disembarking to prevent further cases of COVID-19 on their territories.
Some of the ships, including 20 in US waters, have seen crew member infections and deaths. But most of the ships have had no confirmed cases.
The US Coast Guard said Friday that there were still 70,000 crew members on 102 ships anchored near or in American ports, or en route in American waters.
Global News contacted Global Affairs Canada to determine how many Canadian cruise ship workers were still waiting to be repatriated, but had not received a response at the time of publication.
In March, Travel Canada, the country’s public health agency, urged Canadians to “avoid all cruise ship travel” at the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Travelers have been warned that if they choose to travel on a cruise ship, they may not be offered a seat on a repatriation flight, or may be on the hook to cover the costs.
– With a file from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press