Cruise ship owners left thousands of workers adrift for months

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One day in May, nearly two months after the cruise industry suspended operations due to the pandemic, Chris Richardson stood on a jetty on a private island in the Bahamas while waiting to board his third ship from six-day cruise.
Mr. Richardson, a Canadian skater, had been an artist on the giant cruise ship Liberty of the Seas when the Covid-19 hit in late March. Since then, her employer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., has been moving thousands of inactive crew members from ship to ship in what seemed like a never-ending quest to get them home.
As he passed throngs of sailors waiting to board the ships, he saw many without masks. “We had no idea if anyone was infected with Covid,” he says.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the cruise industry quickly and hard. The epidemics have befallen hundreds of passengers on dozens of ships, sparking a chaotic, weeks-long effort to get paying customers off the ships and return to their home countries.
For over 125,000 crew members, however, this was just the start. Long after the departure of passengers and the disappearance of cruise ship history, thousands of employees were still stranded on ships, far from home in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and other distant countries and widely prohibited from commercial boarding. jets to return.

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