A memo by the US Coast Guard, first reported by the Miami Herald, is instructing cruise ships with more than 50 people aboard to “increase their medical capabilities, personnel, and equipment in order to care for individuals with ILIs (influenza-like illnesses) for an indefinite period of time.” The memo also advises that ships flagged in The Bahamas should seek assistance from that government first, before coming to the United States. It should be noted that most cruise lines are flagged to foreign governments to avoid US labor law requirements.
Effectively, this means that those passengers still on board ships may have an extended period onboard before they will be permitted back into the US.
By some estimates, there are more than 8,000 passengers still at sea – with the majority of those aboard ships owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The MS Zandam (a Carnival owned ship) has been at sea for 15 days and has had 4 deaths attributed to Coronavirus. The ship has been denied docking in several countries. It is currently en route to Florida, but there is no official word if they will be permitted to disembark.