Cruise Liners Stranded at Sea Suffer 4 Non-COVID Deaths Within 2 Weeks
Cruise ships that have been stranded at sea amid fears that the coronavirus may be aboard are now battling another concern, as four crew members have died in unrelated incidents over the past two weeks.
Crews on ships that have been unable to dock at ports because of fears that anyone who goes ashore will bring the virus with them are facing a strain on their mental health, according to Professor Ann Kring, chair of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley.
“They are stuck, they have no information, they don’t know whether the person in the next room is sick or whether they will get sick or whether they ever get home,” she told The Guardian.
“The limbo that they are in is not only anxiety-producing, it could be traumatic in the long term.”
Two of the deaths took place aboard ships operated by Royal Caribbean.
One crew member died after falling overboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas ship on May 2. Royal Caribbean told Fox News it was “assisting authorities with their investigation.”
A death on the Royal Caribbean ship the Mariner of the Seas was “apparently of natural causes,” the cruise line said in a statement. The worker was found dead Sunday.
“Our team has reached out to his family to offer support. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his coworkers,” the statement added.
One man on the Carnival Cruise ship Carnival Breeze died May 9 of what CBS News called an apparent suicide.
“His death is not related to COVID-19, but out of respect for his family, we will not be providing additional details,” Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzell said.
The fourth death took place Sunday when a 39-year-old Ukrainian citizen crew member aboard a Regal Princess ship “jumped overboard and did not survive the impact,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“The ship fully cooperated with and facilitated an investigation led by the state police with the Department of the Port of Rotterdam. Regal Princess was in Rotterdam on May 9, disembarking crew members as part of the global repatriation operation currently underway,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the crew member. We activated our Princess Crew Care Team to assist to family during this difficult time.”
Ryan Driscoll, a cruise ship performer, told CBS he has spent weeks in quarantine.
“The fact that they won’t let us off is extremely frustrating, irritating, especially for ships that just have crew members that have been quarantined for much longer than 14 days that have no COVID-19 cases,” he said. “We’re just stuck here. It does feel like a prison sometimes.”
“I want to go home. I want to see my family.
One cruise line executive said that the companies are trying to get crew members home amid a stormy sea of red tape.
“We are doing everything we possibly can for our crew, and we are frustrated as they are about the difficulty in getting them home,” Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, told USA Today. “Money is literally no object. We are willing to charter flights home, wherever home may be.”
He said the major issue is that “we are dealing with a regulatory landscape that seems to change daily and forces us to adjust our plans just as frequently.”
Krista Thomas, a former cruise ship employee who operates a Facebook group for crew members at sea, said crews are in a difficult situation.
“If they have a window to look out of, they’re looking out at this dark ocean – wondering when they’ll see land, when they’ll go home, how their family is doing, if they’ll be able to provide for them,” she told The Guardian.
“When you’re sitting in a room with nothing to go to and no one to talk to, disconnected from your family, then it only takes something small to spiral.”
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