SA man stuck on cruise liner going nowhere as coronavirus pandemic shutters borders

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Apr 4, 2020

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Johannesburg - Richardt Jansen van Vuuren, a former Affies pupil, is one of many crew members stuck on a cruise ship going nowhere.

Jansen van Vuuren, 21, is a fitness instructor for Royal Caribbean on the Harmony of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world.

When he left South Africa in December for his dream job travelling and helping guests stay fit, he never realised that it would lead to him being confined to a guest cabin.

Speaking to Saturday Star from the ship, Jansen van Vuuren remained positive and said things could have been worse and the cruise company was taking good care of them. “No one has been diagnosed yet here with having Covid-19. I somehow feel safer here, than somewhere out there where I could be more exposed to the virus.”

While the more than 6 000 passengers and some crew had disembarked, Jansen van Vuuren and the rest of the crew remained on the ship as their visas do not allow them to get off. They have been in isolation for the past 14 days and received the news that they would have to remain in total isolation for at least 15 more days.

Those who could get home were allowed to go, but those like the South Africans could not because of the travel ban and closure of airports and ports at short notice.

Jansen van Vuuren said things quickly changed while at sea. A few weeks ago they were still sailing in the Caribbean and news of coronavirus was fairly scarce. But the next thing they heard, cruising was cancelled and the passengers were sent home.

Those remaining were allowed to move from crew quarters to the much more comfortable guest cabins.

“For the first two weeks we stayed in our normal cabins, but we had all the privileges of eating in the guests dining room and using the facilities such as the pool and the bars, normally off limit to most crew.

However, as time went by he and the rest of the crew had to practise social distancing and sanitising their hands “about 77 times a day”.

“I miss my family, but I speak to them several times a day,” he said.

His father, Bernard Jansen van Vuuren, who lives at Hartbeespoort North West, said he was happy his son was safe.

Meanwhile, a cruise ship where at least two passengers died of coronavirus while barred from South American ports docked in Florida after two weeks at sea.

The Zaandam and a sister ship sent to help it, the Rotterdam, were allowed to unload 1200 passengers at Port Everglades.

Saturday Star

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