Good news update to the story below: It’s now Saturday, May 9, Day 60, and Dan Domenech and the other healthy Americans who were stranded at sea with him (a total of 70 US citizens) were finally allowed to disembark at Port Everglades, Florida, for their return trips home. As stipulated by the CDC to permit their repatriation, Princess Cruises provided charter flights and private ground transportation for all of them. I have been in touch with Dan and am very happy to report that he has arrived safely back home in New York!
When Broadway’s ‘Bootleg Famous’ Dan Domenech set out on February 29, to perform on the Sky Princess – Princess Cruises’ newest ship and one of the largest in the world – little did he know that he’d be stranded on board for 40 days and counting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the international cast of Rock Opera and Jim Henson’s Inspired Silliness, Domenech was scheduled for stops in the Caribbean and the Baltic, until the entertainment cruises were cancelled and the ports closed.
Once the virus began to spread and governments began to take action, the ship made a stop in Florida, where the passengers were able to disembark. The cast and crew stayed on, rehearsing and building another show (which never happened), while waiting it out to see if the ship would go back into operation. But the situation got worse, so it didn’t, leaving nearly 40 members of the production team, band, and cast of seventeen performers, including ten Americans, trapped, along with almost 1300 members of the ship’s personnel and crew.
The Sky Princess then moved to Great Isaac, 20 miles off the Bahamas, where it was anchored with six other ships. Princess Cruises immediately began Level 3 Sanitation, with which everyone on board has had to help in the cleaning and sanitizing of the vessel. “I’ve never seen anything so clean. This place is gleaming!” Dan declared, when I spoke with him this afternoon.
Dan also assured me that the management has complied with all of the CDC rules, not just in cleaning the ship, but in keeping everyone in isolation, providing masks for the rare occasions that they are permitted to leave their cabins, maintaining social distance for meals, holding daily informational meetings, and taking their temperatures twice a day. “Everyone at Princess has done a great job,” he said, “but they’ve run out of options, there’s nothing more they can do; everything is up in the air.”
While the New York native feels safer on the ship than he would in taking a flight and going back to the epicenter of the pandemic, others want to go home. “I do solitary well,” the ever good-natured and optimistic actor explained, “but I can see the stress wearing on my castmates’ faces.”
Since the ship left Great Isaac yesterday for Port Everglades, everyone has been sitting in their rooms, not allowed to leave. A new 100-day travel ban has just gone into effect, so they’re supposed to disembark, but the CDC won’t let them – even though all of those still stranded on the Sky Princess are healthy, with no reported illnesses or infections.
Dan’s plea is for anyone who can to get involved, to make their situation known, to contact the authorities, and to “please let these healthy American theater artists go back home.”