Special Charter From Miami to Europe for Cruise Ship Crew - May 2020
The last three months have been extremely difficult for marine personnel, especially for the ones who were far away from home on board idle cruise ships in the USA (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral), a country which went into a state of emergency from April and has one of the toughest travel restrictions worldwide.
Cruise brands have been negotiating the rigid requirements imposed by governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help their crew return home. The latter has even signed a No Sail Order in April and until all the elements of the order are satisfied, cruise ship operators should not request to disembark asymptomatic crew at a US port unless directed by the US Coast Guard in consultation with the CDC.
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 and they must stay in quarantine when they arrive home for 14 days.
SAPKO-C.E. has a good relationship with all ship owners / operators and their mobile groups around the globe and was assigned to organize and coordinate the Balkan Charter (from Miami, US to Sofia, Bulgaria) for one of the largest companies in the sector to repatriate over a hundred international crew members:
- North Macedonia
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
Special green corridor was created between Miami and Sofia to allow for the safe transportation of marine professionals. During their journey from the US to Europe, crew members had to avoid contact with other people to satisfy the CDC’s requirements. Coordinating the safe trip back home was extremely challenging due to the ongoing pandemic and it required the involvement of governments, cruise companies, agents, airlines, and bus operators. First permission from the US government for crew members to travel had to be granted.Then, all eleven embassies in both Washing and Sofia were informed and they had to confirm that the travel was possible. Additional cooperation with other governments was required for everyone, who’s final destination was not Bulgaria. For example, Serbia is under a curfew - travel can only happen during a certain time period (5am to 6pm) and additional checks are required at the border. And in the end Bulgarian authorities had to allow for crew members to transit through the country.
When the marine professionals touched down in Sofia there were 5 buses waiting non-Bulgarian crew:
- One for Romania
- One for Moldova
- One for Macedonia
- Two for Serbia
When the buses reached the Bulgarian border, the crew had to get off and pass the border on foot and then get on another bus from the other side of the border. Without the kind assistance of embassies, representatives and agents from Serbia and Croatia this would not have been possible.
It was an extremely difficult trip for Croatians, Slovenians,and Slovakians due to the additional transport changes and border checks, but we are glad that they managed to reach their homes safely.
SAPKO-C.E. has been working really hard in the last 2-3 weeks to make sure all crew members reach home. We are very proud of all crew members for their discipline and professionalism and want to give special thanks to everyone who helped us in organising the Balkan Charter, especially Privilege Style, without them none of this would have been possible.
Every day dozens of crew members go back home through SAPKO-C.E.’s help. Our mission is to help industry professionals, especially through difficult times like this and we are really happy that they are once again reunited with their lovely families.