Report: Philippines Began COVID-19 Testing on Cruise Ship Crews

File photo

Published May 6, 2020 6:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Philippines Coast Guard has begun a process to address the crew members returning aboard the numerous cruise ships currently in Manila and due to arrive shortly.  

According to a new report in the Manila Bulletin newspaper, The Philippine Coast Guard began implementing COVID-19 testing on the repatriating crew members aboard the cruise ships.  The report states that nearly 1,000 crew members have been tested.  Crew members with negative results will be assisted with travel home while individuals testing positive will be moved a medical facility on shore for appropriate treatment.

The Philippine Coast Guard previously began implementing a 14-day quarantine period for all overseas workers returned to the county.  The quarantine process remains in place for workers returning from both land and sea positions.  

Implementing the process is especially important as large numbers of crew members from the cruise ships are expected to return to The Philippines in the coming weeks.  The first of the cruise ships reached Manila nearly two weeks ago as the ships based in Australia arrived in The Philippines.  Since then additional cruise ships that had been operating from China and other areas have also arrived in Manila.  

Currently there are more than a dozen cruise ships, including ones from Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises, P&O Australia, and Royal Caribbean International, anchored in Manila Bay with additional cruise ships sailing in the waters off the island of Luzon.  

In the coming days, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Panorama, Holland America Line’ Westerdam and Noordam, and Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess and Pacific Princess are all expected to also arrive at Manila.  Additional cruise ships are also believed underway to the region after having recently exchanged crew members before sailing from North America.

Previously several of the cruise lines had arranged charter airplane flights to return crew from their ships to The Philippines.  Royal Caribbean International and its sister brand Celebrity Cruises have both recently requested permission to operate additional charter flights to repatriate crew members to The Philippines from ships currently based in North America.

Before the current processes were established, some individual crew members had reported that in some cases they felt with they were being ostracized in local communities due to fears of the virus.