Most of the world’s cruise ships are idle because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but 10 vessels carrying about 8,000 passengers were still at sea on Wednesday.

Some of the ships were on world cruises that started at the beginning of January. Some have ill passengers aboard. The challenge is to get passengers home when many ports are closed.

“This has been a complex process with teams of people working day and night to coordinate a safe and orderly return to port for passengers and crew and cruise lines working under the direction of governments and health authorities at every step,” said Anne Madison, a spokesperson for cruise trade group CLIA. 

Holland America Line’s Zaandam has gotten the most media attention because of its arduous journey and because four passengers have died on the ship. 

The Zaandam departed on March 7 from Argentina and is now cruising toward Florida, awaiting permission to disembark. The ship is accompanied by the Rotterdam, which met up with the Zaandam off the coast of Panama to deliver supplies.

The Zaandam’s voyage had been scheduled to end on March 21 in Chile, but it was turned away by South American ports. Holland America said 97 guests and 136 crew have presented with influenza-like symptoms since March 22. A few have tested positive for Covid-19. 

Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have been confined to their staterooms since March 22.
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Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess and Pacific Princess are still sailing. Coral Princess has 1,023 guests onboard and Pacific Princess has 115, Princess Cruises said.

As of Tuesday, the medical center onboard Coral Princess was reporting a higher-than-normal number of people with influenza-like symptoms. Many have tested positive for regular influenza but to be cautious, all guests are quarantined in their staterooms. All meals are being delivered by room service. Crew members are remaining in their staterooms when they are not working.

The Coral Princess went to Bridgetown, Barbados, for a service call on Tuesday but guests and crew were not permitted to go ashore. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on April 4. 

The Pacific Princess made a service call to Melbourne, Australia, to refuel and pick up provisions. No guests or crew were allowed to disembark. The 115 guests on board did not meet IATA’s fitness standards for air travel or were not able to fly because of medical conditions not related to coronavirus, Princess said. The ship is now sailing back to Los Angeles, which is approximately a 21-day journey. 

The MSC Magnifica made a call at Fremantle, Australia, earlier this week and has now resumed its journey back to Europe. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ship had called at Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is on its way to Southampton, England. Most guests disembarked the ship in Fremantle, Australia, on March 14 and 15. The ship made a technical stop in Durban, South Africa, on March 31. The Queen Mary 2 will soon be sailing again and has 264 guests aboard, a Cunard spokeswoman said. 

P&O Cruises has one ship still at sea -- the Arcadia with 1,404 guests onboard. The Arcadia is returning to England and is expected to arrive on schedule on April 12. 

“Social distancing measures are being rigorously enforced on board,” said Michele Andjel, vice president of public relations for P&O Cruises and Carnival U.K.

Other ships trying to make port, according to CruiseMapper.com, are the Costa Deliziosa, the Astor (owned by Germany-based Premicon) Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus and the expedition ship Greg Mortimer.

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