The crew from five Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ are at last going home, according to line’s parent company, Global Cruise Lines.
It comes after the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency detained the Astoria, Astor, Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Marco Polo over issues relating to expired crew contracts and the health and safety of staff.
The ships are currently docked at Tilbury and Bristol in the United Kingdom and with the aid of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the crew members will be flown home to different countries including Indonesia, India and the Philippines.
It was alleged that some crew members had been on the ship for over a year and their contracts were no longer valid. There were also reports of late wage payments.
According to a statement from CMV, the MCA had identified some issues and detained the ships for two weeks. The line said the ongoing COVID travel restrictions meant that staff could not return home.
“The MCA has identified some issues relating to expired crew contracts and crew being onboard in excess of 12 months. Both issues occurred as a result of the enforced lockdown period and the COVID-19 travel restrictions for some countries. They also identified recent temporary delays in the payment of wages which were due within the last week and have already been corrected by CMV,” said the statement.
“The inspection onboard Magellan identified the same issues, but the vessel was not detained and was given 14 days to rectify them. The health, safety and welfare of all their passengers and crew is CMV’s top priority. CMV, as have many other cruise lines, has faced an unprecedented emerging humanitarian issue as many crew members became stranded on cruise ships as borders closed as a result of the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A large proportion of crew stuck onboard hailed from India and according to a letter from the All India Seafarers Union sent to the Indian government in June, a number of staff had gone on a hunger strike and staged a peaceful protest.
Christian Verhounig, the CEO of CMV said: “CMV’s number one priority is to care for and repatriate crew members as is the case for all CLIA cruise line members, especially in light of the complexities involved due to travel restrictions and differing policies and approaches imposed by local and national governments around the world. The vast majority of our European crew have already been repatriated and CMV has flown home a large number of International crew on specially chartered flights.
“CMV has been in high level talks with the Indian High Commission to obtain special landing permits and other international governments, to help facilitate and expedite our crew’s safe return back home to their families. Our crew have endured a pro-longed period quarantined on board our ships during lockdown and are understandably anxious and distressed as a result. We fully sympathise with and understand our crew’s frustration and upset at being held under quarantine conditions onboard our ships due to the local restrictions imposed.”
The company is also still looking to raise funds during the coronavirus crisis. The line has been rapidly expanding and acquiring ships from Carnival Corporation. The line has agreed to acquire two more ships from P&O Cruises Australia in 2021.