Crews stranded on cruise ships and stayed in cabins without fresh air for weeks – even after passengers returned by air – fearing they would be forgotten, Sky News told .
Dancer Lauren Carrick, 29, of Norwich, is one of 900 crew members on the Celebrity Infinity boat unable to return home due to restrictions imposed by American authorities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The cruise liner has been at sea off the Bahamas for almost seven weeks and the people on board have not touched land since then.
“Everyone is obviously very frustrated and upset. Everyone wants to go back, “Carrick told Sky News.
Carrick, who is on board with her fiancée Joseph Harrison, 27, said the crew members were isolated in their cabins for 21 days – some of which had no windows.
“When you’re there for 24 hours a day, it’s hard in and of itself to try and find things to do – there’s only a certain amount of TV you can watch on your laptop all days.
“We were fortunate to have free Wi-Fi, but the connection was not excellent. “
The crew is now allowed to leave their cabin three times a day for meals.
The crew members are a mix of nationalities, including British, American, Indonesian and Filipino.
They have not been able to return home since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed a ban on shipping on ships in U.S. waters, which prohibits crew members from using commercial transportation for land.
Cruise lines are allowed to operate special charter flights, but Carrick says the CDC has canceled four scheduled flights so far – dashing the hopes of crew members.
Earlier this month, the US Coast Guard said more than 100 cruise ships and 90,000 crew members were still stranded at sea in or near American ports and waters.
A crew member aboard the Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest passenger ship, also told Sky News that more than 1,000 staff are waiting to return home after the CDC has not approved their charter flight.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
“It’s a mountain of emotions,” said Carrick.
“You may be happy one day because you think you might be left out of your cabin, or you think ‘I could go home in two days’, or else you are upset because it just isn’t going well arrive. “
Carrick said many Celebrity Infinity employees have also had their wages cut – even though they are paid $ 13 (£ 10.42) per day. This is a particularly important problem for those who send money home to their families.
On its website, the CDC lists 23 cruises that have been affected by COVID-19[female[feminine.
Of these, 13 vessels reported travelers whose virus was positive.
The rest, including the Celebrity Infinity, had passengers tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of disembarkation. However, as the symptoms of these travelers started after the voyage, it is not certain that they contracted the virus on ships.
In an update on its website, the CDC said: “We are currently in a pandemic phase where it is necessary to put in place strict measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
“Just as the American public has a role to play in staying at home to slow the spread, cruise lines have a role to play in taking good care of their crew, including isolating them if they are sick and putting them in quarantine if they have been exposed. “
Carrick says there are no cases of COVID-19 on the vessel and that no one has any symptoms.
Many crew members are now desperate to return home with their husbands, wives and children.
“I don’t understand why we are treated differently from paying passengers,” said Carrick. “We are still people at the end of the day. “
A Celebrity Cruises spokesperson said, “We have always worked in close coordination with government and health officials and are grateful for their advice.
“We are working with all the relevant authorities to ensure the safe return of all our crew members. “
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “We are in direct contact with the operator of the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, as well as with many crew members and their families.
“We will continue to support tour operators to ensure the well-being and safety of British crews. “