Thursday, December 7, 2023

1,100 cruise ship crew stuck in Vallarta awaiting government permission to leave

After more than two months at sea, Dr. Marco Antonio Espinosa Andaluz and 19 other Mexican crew members were finally able to disembark from the Holland America cruise ship Koningsdam in Puerto Vallarta on Sunday after he posted a Twitter message asking the government for permission to leave the ship.

However, more than 1,100 other crew members from eight different ships, representing some 70 nationalities, remain aboard the vessel.

Despite no reported cases of the coronavirus, no country wants to allow them to leave the ship to return home to their families.

Among those trapped on the Koningsdam is Joana Abreu Ferreira, a young Portuguese woman who says that she has been adhering to all directives from her captain, including using a mask, social distancing, having her temperature taken twice daily, and other isolation measures for the past 80 days. 

“Our company has been doing everything in their power to keep us safe and healthy, and to send us back home to our families,” Abreu says, but the crew has yet to receive government clearance to leave the ship. 

“I personally don’t understand what harm can we cause to the country considering we don’t have a single case of Covid-19 on our ship,” she wrote. “After all, we are just human beings trying to get home to our families and loved ones.”

The extended period of isolation at sea and uncertain future has taken its toll among crew members, Abreu wrote on her Facebook page. Four people from other ships have committed suicide, she says.

And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for those awaiting repatriation. Many of the crew members are from countries whose borders remain closed due to the pandemic.

The Miami Herald newspaper estimated Sunday that there are more than 100,000 crew members stranded on cruise ships around the world.

“We should be the ones afraid to go into the world, considering we are living in a place with zero cases and going to a place with millions,” argues Abreu, “but instead it’s the world that is afraid of us.”

Source: Excélsior (sp)

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