Managing Director for MSC Cruises South Africa Ross Volk said MSC Cruises are working tirelessly to get staff still on its fleet back home.
The cruise company has already sent the majority of its 20 000 crew members working across 17 ships globally home despite some national borders being shut, closed airports and huge reductions in commercial air travel.
MSC Cruises extended all cruise departures fleet-wide through to July 10, 2020, due to Covid-19. For the cruise company, getting their crew home remains a top priority.
“We are doing everything we can to get crew members who are still on our ships home. These efforts include chartering aircraft in the past few weeks to different countries around the world to get our crew members back safely to their countries to be with their families.
“Every day, the numbers reduce despite the travel challenges of closed borders and reduced commercial flights. We are also looking at a range of extraordinary steps to accelerate this process involving pooled charter flights and the redeployment of some vessels as transport for the crew,” said Volk.
He said 95 percent of crew members still on board MSC ships originate from countries that have effectively barred their citizens from returning home, at least for the time being.
Volk said the cruise company has a plan in place for the remaining crew members to repatriate by various means, including flying home on chartered aircraft, once these travel restrictions were lifted.
“For our South African crew members still on board, we continue to work tirelessly to get them home. We are fully supportive of the strenuous efforts made by South Africa’s Department of Transport, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, plus the South African Maritime Safety Authority, to repatriate them back home,” he emphasised.
Volk said every crew member has their own passenger cabin and depending on the type of ship, many of the crew occupied balcony cabins.
“As we continue to work towards getting every crew member home, apart from those on our vessels who are required under international maritime law for minimum ship safe manning purposes, all crew members have free internet to connect with their families. A diverse range of menus are provided with fresh provisions safely brought onboard from ashore, 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 in line with best international best practice. We continue to work to make sure that they can safely head home and take care of their families and themselves during these difficult times,” he added.