With the cruise industry (voluntarily) shut down, a lot of cruise ships and their crews have no place to go. The Port of Virginia is stepping in to provide dockage for three Norwegian Cruise Line ships.
Portsmouth Marine Terminal, which is currently closed to container traffic, will become a temporary home to Norwegian ships Bliss, Encore and Spirit, which have not had any passengers since March 24. The ships have been operating with reduced crews of 175 or less– which the Virginia Port Authority says is a fraction of regular staffing.
The ships, which had been rotating dock space with other cruise ships in Florida for the past month, are scheduled to be at Portsmouth for two months.
“The cruise industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and this is one way we can help a member of the larger maritime industry,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We have told the cruise industry that we stand ready to help, to the extent that we can. These vessels need a place where they can tie-up, get fresh water, restock food and service their systems.”
The CDC requires all crew members to stay aboard their ships while at Portsmouth. Norwegian Cruise Line had to submit crew manifests and a plan of operation to the CDC, the Coast Guard, and the Virginia Department of Health to be accepted into Norfolk Harbor.
The ships will be docked at Portsmouth Marine Terminal until the end of June.
–Meg Walburn Viviano