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Cruise ships sitting empty with only crews aboard at Port Miami

MIAMI, Fla. – The coronavirus outbreak has caused dozens of massive cruise liners to anchor off the shores of South Florida. In Miami Beach alone, there are at least a half-dozen cruise ships sitting off the coast.

If you’ve been anywhere near the coastline recently, especially at night, it’s hard not to miss those huge ships, lighting up the horizon.

It all started back in early March when most major cruise lines began shutting down their operations, leaving many of these ships sitting empty.

In Miami-Dade County, there are currently seven cruise ships anchored off the coast of Miami Beach, with most of those coming back to port periodically to refuel.

That’s in addition to another seven that are docked at Port Miami right now.

Most of the ships are based out of South Florida, and have been here since the global shutdown started after the coronavirus pandemic. A few others though, have moved here from other regions

Cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron explains what the ships are doing with no passengers and anchored off shore and how long they will be here.

"So right now, with the different clusters of cruises, we have some in port and some anchored off shore, and then a couple clusters in the Bahamas. What the cruise lines are doing, is they’re bringing ships in and removing non-essential workers, or crew members whose contracts are up, and then they’re going to be repatriated back to their home countries.”

Chiron says the few workers who are remaining on-board are mostly carrying out their normal duties — including routine cleanings —in addition to their usual maintenance work.He says some do get to enjoy the on-board amenities.

But obviously, the longer those ships sit empty of any passengers — the harder this crisis will be on the cruise lines themselves — which do employ so many people here in South Florida.

Chiron though said he is confident the industry will rebound when all of this passes.

As for how long the ships will remain here much of that depends on when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will lifts its current cruise ship travel warning.

So far, government officials have not given any indication on exactly when that will be.

See the CDC’s statement about cruise ship travel and COVID-19.


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