Cuba Gives Refuge to Cruise Ship with COVID-19 Cases On Board

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Published Mar 16, 2020 1:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has secured permission from the Cuban government allowing the cruise ship Braemar to disembark her passengers at the port of Mariel for repatriation. The Braemar has five individuals on board who have tested positive for COVID-19, and 22 guests and 21 crewmembers are currently in onboard isolation with "influenza-like symptoms," including one doctor.

Over the weekend, Braemar anchored at a position 25 miles off Freeport, The Bahamas, in order to take on more supplies. A cargo ship brought out more food and medicine for a ship-to-ship transfer, and also delivered two more doctors and two nurses. After a rest period for the crew, the Braemar's captain weighed anchor Monday morning and got under way for Mariel. She is expected to arrive on Tuesday morning. 

Cuba has agreed to provide Braemar with a port of refuge out of 'humanitarian concerns," part of a "shared effort to confront and stop the spread of the pandemic."

The government of the UK is working to facilitate the repatriation of about 600 British nationals on board. 

"We are working around the clock to arrange evacuation flights from Cuba to the UK as soon as possible for passengers on the Braemar cruise ship," the UK Foreign Office said in a statement. "The evacuation is being co-ordinated with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and we advise that all passengers follow their instructions. We continue to update British passengers as the plans progress."

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said in a statement that it is working with Public Health England to clarify the requirements for guests once they return to the UK. A previous group of British cruise passengers from the quarantined cruise ship Grand Princess were allowed to self-quarantine after a repatriation flight earlier this month.