French nationals leave Port of Gulfport after Carnival Cruise, surprising officials amid coronavirus concerns

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GULFPORT, Miss. (WXXV) — Cruise lines around the world are suspending operations due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

With no passengers on board, idle cruise ships are overwhelming several ports that normally host them.

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Yesterday, the Carnival Valor docked at the Port of Gulfport, where it will stay for the next four weeks. The ship is hosting more than 1,000 crew members on board.

Officials say the crew may get off the ship, but they are not allowed to leave the port.

However, one woman reported to WXXV on social media overnight that two people were observed exiting the port.

Port Director and CEO Johnathan Daniels confirmed to WXXV that two crew members disembarked the ship and left the Port of Gulfport, which is not allowed under their agreement with Carnival.

Daniels says the two crew members were identified as French nationals who were at the end of their employment contract with Carnival Cruise Lines. Both crew members have returned to France. Daniels did not say what airport the two French Nationals left from.

Today another Carnival ship docked at the port. The Carnival Freedom will also remain in port for at least the next thirty days.

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas is anchored off of Ship Island. It will visit the port once a week to refuel and restock provisions.

Daniels says the quick ability to accommodate these cruise ships shows the Port of Gulfport’s readiness to host passenger ships and other large vessels.

Carnival Valor and Majesty of the Seas are typically homeported in New Orleans, while Carnival Freedom is homeported in Galveston, Texas.