Friday, 3 Jul 2020

Cruise: British port authorities board six cruise ships amid ‘serious concerns’ over crew

Cruise ships anchored near London and Bristol have been boarded by British port authority today, in the latest cruise news. Almost 1,500 cruise crew have been stranded due to the coronavirus and there are said to have been “serious concerns” over their welfare. One of the vessels, the Astoria, is owned by Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV).

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The ship has been temporarily detained after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) received reports it was due to depart the UK without repatriation secured for the crew.

Hundreds of crew have been also left stranded in Tilbury Docks in the Thames estuary for months after cruises were cancelled.

According to unverified reports, some of the crew have carried out hunger strikes.

Ships’ owners say one person has died of a heart attack.

Indian cruise crew members are said to have made a direct appeal for help to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Three days ago, the All India Seafarer and General Workers Union wrote to the Indian foreign office.

They requested repatriation of 164 crew members onboard the Astoria.

The letter, posted to Twitter, stated: “In the coronavirus outbreak our Indian citizens [are] stuck in foreign waters from past 90 days and need help”.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages have said the crew are frustrated at being unable to return home due to global travel restrictions.

They said 50 out of 262 crew members on the Astoria had “commenced a strike, including no longer performing routine maintenance work onboard,” reported The Guardian.

They refuted claims of hunger strikes and said it was working hard to repatriate crew members.

Express.co.uk has contacted CMV for further comment.

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The MCA said of the Astoria’s detention: “The detention is a preventative measure in line with UK regulations, in order that a full inspection of the ship related to the maritime labour convention can be carried out before its intended departure.

“It cannot leave the port until the inspection is completed.”

“Five other ships in the same company – Global Cruise Lines Ltd – four others based at Tilbury and one at Bristol are also being inspected.

“Acting as the port state control authority for the UK, the MCA has taken this action following a number of serious concerns which were raised about the welfare of the crew.”

Some cruise companies are extending their cancellations of holidays despite plans to return to seas sooner.

Norwegian Cruise Line, also known as NCL, and its sister brands Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceana Cruises announced this week that they would be cancelling more voyages going into Autumn.

Previously, the three brands had cancelled voyages until the end of July.

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