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Over 300 cruise crew to be flown from Gib today

Eyleen Gomez

Over 300 crew members from two cruise ships will be disembarked in Gibraltar today and flown to London on two chartered planes.

The operation, which is being conducted under the guidance of public health officials, will enable those seafarers to connect to a second chartered flight in Heathrow bound for Barbados after weeks at sea.

The Jewel of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and the Sovereign, operated by sister company Pullmantur Cruises, were expected to dock alongside the Western Arm in the Port of Gibraltar in the early hours of this morning.

The crew will disembark and board buses for an immediate transfer to Gibraltar International Airport, where their flights are due to depart by 9.45am.

The two planes, both operated by British Airways, arrived in Gibraltar yesterday ahead of the logistical operation today.

Special screens have been installed in the buses and personal protective equipment will be used throughout the operation, which is expected to last no more than four or five hours.

But the crew have been on board for many weeks and none have any health issues or Covid-19 symptoms.

Gibraltar, in common with other ports around the world, has suspended regular cruise calls against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

But the government has allowed so-called ‘technical calls’ to enable operators to transfer crew for operational and humanitarian reasons, as well as take on fuel and other essential supplies.

The cruise sector is currently in hibernation, with vessels maintaining only minimum crews while operators wait for the market to recover.

As with other such calls, no shore personnel will attend on board today and contact with port staff will be minimal.

The vessels are expected to depart soon after the operation is complete, although one may remain in the area awaiting orders.