The mental health of thousands of cruise crew members still stranded at sea has been brought to public attention after several deaths and a hunger strike in the space of two weeks.
Though most passengers were able to disembark cruise ships by early April amid global cruise bans, some reports indicate there are at least 100,000 crew members for various cruise lines still stranded at sea.
Carnival told Travel Weekly a male team member on board Carnival Breeze had died of non-COVID-19 related causes, but out of respect for his family, they will not be providing additional details. The cause of death is not yet clear.
Two deaths occurred last Sunday, with The Guardian reporting a Ukrainian woman had died after apparently jumping from the Regal Princess, which was outside the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and CBS reporting a crew member on board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas died of natural causes the same day.
CBS also reported that on 2 May a crew member went overboard from Jewel of the Seas.
It is not clear whether the deaths were mental-health-related or not.
A group of 15 Romanian crew members on board another Royal Caribbean ship, Navigator of the Seas, have also raised the alarm by engaging in a hunger strike over not being able to disembark, which The Guardian reported ended when the cruise line arranged a charter flight for later this month.
“At this moment we feel that we’re all hostages,” one crew member said, according to the Miami Herald.
“This company needs to understand we are not boxes of food that can be moved around.”
The Guardian also reported that German police were called on board a ship known as Mien Schiff 3 in the port of Cuxhaven last week after reports of disturbances when crew members assembled to disembark only to learn they were no longer able to do so.
While some lines are managing to repatriate a trickle of crew members, many are still in limbo as health authorities around the world continue to bar them from disembarking.
Travel Weekly has reached out to Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises for comment.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline on 131 114, or beyondblue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service at 1800 512 348.
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Featured image: iStock/chrisbradshaw