Norwegian Cruise Line Makes Difficult Decision on Crew Members

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With further suspensions to May 2021 and a long journey ahead to return to normality for Norwegian Cruise Line, it’s now confirmed that non-essential crew members are being sent back home again after recently returning to the ships.

NCL Repatriating Crew Members Again

Just as things are starting to happen and cruise ships are starting to prepare on resuming cruises, things still remain unknown. Cruise lines need to change their plans, and Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the major cruise lines that is now making adjustments on manning ships.

Crew Center is the first to report that crew members received a letter from the cruise line detailing plans on repatriation. This apparently includes crew members who have not long returned back to the ship due to the anticipation of restarting operations.

On January 19, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a further pause on operations until May 2021. There was hope that three vessels would resume sailings in April but with the ongoing pandemic and further details needed from the CDC on a safe return, it forced all cruise lines to extend their suspensions.

Norwegian Cruise Ship Funnel
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks /

Cruise Hive reached out to the cruise line and a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said:

“This extended delay in cruise voyages is longer than we anticipated when we brought crew back to our ships in late 2020 for a potential return to service in early 2021.”

“The shift in our operational time period has required us to adjust our ship manning plan for the revised return to service timing.”

“While it’s a difficult decision to repatriate certain crew members to their home countries, it’s tough decisions like this that have been made to ensure that safety is prioritized above all else.”

Non-essential crew members are being sent back home and according to the details, this will be done via the Norwegian Joy which is currently on hold in Aruba, and Norwegian Encore which’s on hold in Southampton, UK. The process is set to be completed in April 2021. NCL did also inform us:

“We continue to work in partnership with global public health agencies including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to meet all requirements for a safe and healthy return to service. To provide these crew members a swift and safe passage home, we will leverage our fleet around the world to assist in repatriation efforts.”

“Our number one priority is to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, and we look forward to welcoming our valued crew members back aboard in the near future.”

The majority of the crew from the Philipines, Indonesia, and India will likely be the countries the ships set course for. NCL cruise ships will still have essential crew members on board, and they will keep the ship maintained ready for when cruises eventually resume.

Cruise Ships Anchored in Manila Bay
Ships Anchored Repatriating Crew at Manila Bay (Photo Credit: Yo_aphinya /

Was It False Hopes?

At the end of 2020 NCL along with other cruise lines, started working on bringing thousands of crew members back to ships. There was new hope after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended the No Sail Order and introduced a new Conditional Sailing Order on October 30, 2020.

It was a sign that cruising would soon resume but here we are months later and still, nobody really knows when cruising will resume. With the new Biden administration and a new CDC director, there could be changes ahead.

Even if cruises are currently set to resume in May, there won’t be a need for every vessel to be manned, and unfortunately, many crew will have to stay at home for even longer.

There have already been predictions of a further delay in resuming cruises, and the situation remains very fluid. So far, only Norwegian Cruise Line plans on repatriating crew members again. Until cruises come back, NCL continues to work on new health measures to make sure guests and the crew members, and the communities ships visit remain safe.

Main Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks /

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