A weekend fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean yielded a big encounter for a group of Volusia County anglers: an up-close look at Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship.
DAYTONA BEACH — A weekend fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean yielded a big encounter for a group of Volusia County anglers, but not on the end of a rod and reel.
Bill Navarra, broker/owner of Realty Pros Assured in Ormond Beach, was out with friends on his 32-foot Contender fishing boat on Saturday about 25 miles offshore between Ponce Inlet and Daytona Beach Shores, when he came across Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship anchored in the water.
"It was just parked out there," Navarra said. "We circled it a few times because we were trolling for some fish. We were out practicing for some upcoming fishing tournaments."
About 50 crew members aboard the cruise ship started waving at the fishermen, Navarra said. The fishermen weren’t close enough to exchange any words with them, he said.
"They were waving to us, like ‘Hello!’" he said. "They all looked very happy."
The Oasis of the Seas is among the cruise ships that have been in the news lately as the worldwide cruise industry struggles to contend with the catastrophic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A third Oasis of the Seas crew member died Sunday from COVID-19 in a Broward County hospital, the Miami Herald reported this week.
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That crew member, Carlo Baluran, of the Philippines, had been hospitalized several weeks ago before succumbing to the disease early Sunday morning, the company’s CEO, Michael Bayley, said in a statement to crew members obtained by the Herald.
At least 14 crew members from the Oasis of the Seas ship tested positive for COVID-19 in late March, with at least nine evacuated to South Florida hospitals.
Crew members have been trapped on board cruise ships with little or no information about how they might be returning home since the industry canceled new cruises on March 13.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has required that cruise company executives sign an agreement with the agency that carries possible criminal and civil consequences if CDC rules for disembarkation are not followed.
On Sunday, CEOs of Royal Caribbean brands Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises announced they would sign the required agreements with the CDC to allow crew to disembark, according to company communication obtained by the Herald.
On Tuesday, the Oasis was offshore near the Bahamas, where Royal Caribbean was working on repatriating the crew, according to an email from the company. The same email confirmed that the ship had been in the Atlantic off Daytona Beach over the weekend.
And the fisherman? They didn’t have any luck hooking anything during the close encounter with the cruise ship.
"We were hoping for some mahi mahi," Navarra said, "but there were no fish under the boat."
At least they ended up with a story to tell.