Two crew members have died in separate incidents unrelated to coronavirus, as thousands of crew remain stranded on ships spread across the globe.
On Sunday, a crew member who had been on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess died while the ship was outside the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the cruise line confirmed in a statement shared with USA TODAY by spokesperson Alivia Owyoung-Ender.
The deceased, a 39-year-old female crew member and Ukrainian citizen, jumped overboard and did not survive the impact.
The ship cooperated and facilitated an investigation conducted by state police and the Department of the Port of Rotterdam.
The Regal Princess was in the Dutch port city on Saturday to disembark crew members as a part of their efforts to repatriate crew members still on board.
Another crew member died Saturday on board the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Cruise Line confirmed in a statement provided by spokesperson Vance Gulliksen to USA TODAY on Tuesday.
The second Royal Class ship, the Regal Princess (shown), joined the Princess fleet in 2014 and was followed in 2017 by the Majestic Princess, which was designed for the Asian cruise market.
“Sadly, we can confirm the death of a male team member who was on guest status on Carnival Breeze’s repatriation sailing to Europe,” Carnival Cruise Line said. “His death is not related to COVID-19, but out of respect for his family, we will not be providing additional details.”
The Carnival Breeze is making its way to Southampton, in southern England, and other areas in Europe to repatriate crew members stuck on board.
“The entire Carnival family is deeply saddened by this tragic loss and extends its heartfelt sympathy to the team member’s family and friends,” Gulliksen said.
Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises are subsidiaries of Carnival Corp., which is being investigated by Congress for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Princess Cruises’ fleet includes the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess which faced devastating outbreaks of coronavirus onboard, forcing the ships into quarantine. More than 700 people were infected with the virus on the Diamond Princess and 13 died. At least 103 people were infected on the Grand Princess and at least two have died.
An ongoing struggle for crew members to get home
As of May 9, there were more than 70,000 crew remaining aboard idle cruise ships in U.S. waters alone, according to the U.S. Coast Guard – many more are marooned on ships around the world – as their companies try to negotiate rigid requirements imposed by governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amid the coronavirus pandemic to get them to their home countries.
‘Like prisoners’: Crews are still marooned aboard cruise ships mired in red tape
By mid-March passengers left most of the ships, which won’t be sailing again with passengers aboard anytime soon after the CDC issued a 100-day “no sail” order lasting well into summer. While some crew are needed to man the ships, cruise operators are left to deal with those who aren’t needed on board anymore.
Cruise lines slow to issue refunds: Coronavirus ‘dwarfs any disruption we’ve experienced’
At this point, fears that crews might have contracted the coronavirus have largely receded, since those in the U.S. have already quarantined long beyond the required 14 days. But the rules about getting them home are strict.
CDC rules require company executives to guarantee that crew members be sent home entirely on charter flights and private transportation. Repatriated crew members must avoid public transportation and public airport terminals, then must quarantine at home for 14 days upon arrival. Executives have to sign a form attesting that if any of the rules are broken, they are subject to criminal penalties, including jail time.
American cruise workers denied disembarkation: ‘Treating us like disease vectors instead of humans’
Because cruise ships employ large numbers of foreign nationals, operators must comply with dozens of sets of rules for countries ranging from Peru to the Philippines.
Cruise ship operators say they are anxious to get crews home. And according to the CDC, it has approved the disembarkation plans for more than 5,700 workers so far, the most recent of which include South American crew members from Carnival Fantasy, Norwegian Escape and two Oceania Cruises ships.
The Cruise Lines International Association indicated its members are doing their best to abide by CDC rules and to repatriate crews. Executives at individual companies, however, are far more direct.
“We are doing everything we possibly can for our crew, and we are frustrated as they are about the difficulty in getting them home,” Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, told USA TODAY. “Money is literally no object. We are willing to charter flights home, wherever home may be.”
The problem, he said, is “we are dealing with a regulatory landscape that seems to change daily and forces us to adjust our plans just as frequently.”
Things are tough right now, and we want to help you get through it: Sign up for our Staying Apart, Together newsletter
Contributing: Chris Woodyard
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Regal Princess cruise ship worker jumped overboard, didn’t survive