Strict rules imposed by the American Centres of Disease Control and Prevention has put the mental health and wellbeing of around 100,000 stranded cruise crew around the world in jeopardy.
On Sunday, a 39-year-old Ukrainian woman died after apparently jumping from the Regal Princess outside the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
And according to Crews Center, an online site for crew news, a 29-year-old Hungarian was found dead in his cabin as the Carnival Breeze was on its way to Southampton to repatriate staff.
He was a shore excursion assistant manager on the ship for the past three years.
Aside from 20 vessels at anchor in Manila Bay in the Philippines, there are around 70,000 crew still waiting at sea to get home.
The lines blame strict rules from health authorities for not letting crew disembark. Though, they have managed to repatriate small groups of crew members.
The uncertainty of being unable to get home has taken a toll on the crews.
On Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, 15 Romanians started a hunger strike in protest of not being able to disembark. The line said the hunger strike ended after a charter flight was arranged from Barbados later this month.
In Germany on the Mein Schiff 3, police were called after there were reports of disturbances after 3,000 crew members, who had assembled to repatriate, were told they had to stay on the ship after nine people tested positive for COVID-19.
Will Lees, a Canadian who was hired to run art shows and gallery sales on the Norwegian Star, told The Guardian that the waiting and uncertainty has been deeply unsettling.
Mr Lees, who has been at sea since last October, was transferred to the Norwegian Epic, and is now on another ship sailing to Europe, where he was told he will be flown back to Canada.
“Each day you have no real purpose. It’s the same as the day before,” he said in a WhatsApp message sent to The Guardian.
“You feel like you’re giving up your life and doing the same thing over and over again. It’s depressing.”
In response to concerns about the mental health of staff, Royal Caribbean said: “The health and safety of our crew is our top priority and we are working around the clock to make sure they get home safely. We have an employee assistance programme that crew are able to call 24 hours a day and is fully confidential.”
Carnival Corporation said: “We provide all employees complimentary access to our employee assistance programme (EAP), which includes a variety of services, and credentialed counsellors. In addition, our onboard medical team is trained to identify guests and crew who might need additional resources and support.”
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