“The challenges in repatriating seafarers on cruise vessels around the world have highlighted the shortcomings of many governments in this worldwide crisis,” Lena Dyring, director of cruise operations for the Norwegian Seafarers Union, told Cruise Industry News. “These shortcomings have caused a toxic, compounding domino effect for seafarers who were and still are stuck on cruise ships around the world and caused a lot of human suffering.”
Dyring said that first of all she wanted to highlight how the Bahamas has acted.
“They have not allowed repatriation from their territory, thus failing their obligations under the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC). They boast that they have ‘allowed’ the ships to anchor in their waters and have crew members transferring between vessels so they can sail them home. They also boast that storing and provisions have been done in the Bahamas. But to my knowledge, most of these vessels still sail to Miami or Port Everglades for storing and provisions.”
According to Dyring, had the Bahamas allowed charter flights out of their territory from day one, there would not have been so many seafarers stuck at sea and a lot of human suffering and uncertainty could have been avoided. To her knowledge, she said, the Bahamas has even denied medical evacuations from vessels registered there.
There are many governments that have failed both their own citizens and their obligations under the MLC, according to Dyring. She said there is a pattern of “overreactions” caused by what she called fear and not facts.
“I also have to highlight the situation in the Philippines where thousands of seafarers have been stuck either on a ship in Manila Bay or in some kind of quarantine situation in Manila for weeks and sometimes months for no apparent reason.
“The Philippine union AMOSUP has done a great job in the middle of all of this, but it is difficult when you have to work against all of these other forces.”
Some governments have stepped up and taken responsibility. Dyring mentioned that Barbados, for instance, has taken a vastly different approach to the challenges and have invited the cruise lines to operate charter flights out of their country.
Some countries in Europe have also taken their obligations seriously. Dyring said that the UK has stepped up, as well as Germany, Spain and Norway.
Read the full article in the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Summer 2020 edition, due out at the end of June.