Many governments failing in cruise crew repatriation obligations, says union

Many governments have displayed shortcomings in repatriating stranded crew from around the world, Lena Dyring, director of cruise operations for the Norwegian Seafarers Union, told Cruise Industry News in an interview.

“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.

In particular she highlighted that the Bahamas had not allowed repatriation from their territory, “thus failing their obligations under the Maritime Labour 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.”

Dyring claimed that if the Bahamas had allowed charter flights out of their territory from day one, there would not have been so many seafarers stuck at sea.

Dyring said there had been a pattern of “over reactions” 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.

Dyring noted that Barbados had taken a vastly different approach to the challenges and had 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.