Crew members stuck onboard a quarantined cruise ship for nearly a month have spoken about the devastating impact that living in isolation is having on their mental health.
Some 650 crew members are currently stranded off the coast of Brazil on the luxury MSC Seaview liner, where they are not allowed to leave their cabins, apart from when doing their laundry, reports SWNS.
Those onboard have been given no timeframe for when they might return home, after several workers onboard tested positive for Covid-19.
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Logistics are preventing the uninfected from leaving, with the majority of countries having now closed their borders and the number of available flights hugely reduced.
One crew member described it as a “terrible situation”, telling SWNS: “We are already more than 20 days in isolation in our cabins and it’s really hard for your mental health.
“We don’t know what is going on.”
He claimed that although he had been moved to a passenger cabin with a small balcony and porthole, other crew members were stuck in staff accommodation, with no windows, no natural light and no fresh air.
He also described the practical concerns that are now stacking up, claiming that those onboard can’t clean the toilets in their cabins because management are not providing cleaning supplies.
“We don’t have fresh food – we just have what is in storage,” he added.
“There are no fresh fruit or fresh vegetables because we are in the middle of the sea with no cargo and no trucks to bring food on board.”
Video from inside the ship shows dirty dishes piled high outside cabin doors, as the crew are not allowed to leave their rooms.
Pictures, too, show the meals they are currently being given: pasta with bread or tortilla chips, with no fresh vegetables.
There is no common area for crew to relax in; they are essentially condemned to solitary confinement.
Anxieties onboard are exacerbated by the fact that all MSC staff have had their contracts frozen, meaning they are no longer getting paid.
“It has been very difficult to be far away from my family,” said the crew member.
“It has been so hard to be alone.
“I need human contact and I am passing through all of this by myself.”
MSC said it was a “challenge” to repatriate everyone due to closed borders and airports. “Despite our very best efforts – often at the highest possible level within the relevant governments – we still have not found a viable solution for some of our crew members to travel back to their home countries,” said a spokesperson.
“As we continue to work to ensure that crew members can safely repatriate, every one of them is accommodated in a passenger cabin individually with no rooms shared.
“All crew members have free internet to connect with their families, menus have been enhanced and all receive frequent and regular health and temperature checks for their wellbeing.
“This is a strictly temporary solution conceived to look after our crew members’ health, safety and wellbeing while we continue to work to make sure our they can safely head home and take care of their families and themselves during these difficult times.”
They added: “As the same for all of our ships, MSC Seaview has cleaning supplies that are required to run a full cruise operation with thousands of passengers on board.
“We have upgraded our menus for crew members while they remain on board, providing greater diversity and enhanced dining options.”
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