An investigation report by Bloomberg has revealed the human cost of shipping in the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of cruise ship workers were forced to live in isolation in their cruise ships, resulting in some deaths by suicide, says the investigation report.
Some points covered in the report were:
- The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the human cost of shipping
- With many cruise ships becoming outbreak hotspots cruise employees are at the receiving end.
- Many of them are trapped on these ships and in quarantine.
- This resulted in numerous deaths by suicides amongst the cruise employees living in the ships.
- Cruise companies say that they provided adequate support.
- The bereft families are taking the cruise companies to court.
Crew Transport Too Expensive
As the pandemic unfolded several cruise ships in the United States became covid hotspots. While the passengers were evacuated as soon as possible, some covid deaths happened. However, the crew of these cruise ships didn’t get any reprieve as they had to remain in isolation on the ship.
Cruise employees weren’t able to leave their ships as the cruise companies refused to sign up a deal with CDC which said that the onus of the crew transportation lies with the shipping company. The April agreement was deemed too expensive by the cruise companies.
Seafarers Turned Suicidal
Thus when the time of disembarkation came it was too late for the crew to leave the ship and they had to live in tiny cabins with no pay. With no assurance when they can return to their families, many of them turned suicidal as their mental health deteriorated. Even those who were isolated at home faced extreme mental health conditions.
According to the report, dozens of cruise employees took their own lives in this isolation.
Cruise Companies Provided Regular Support
Speaking of these suicides, Chris Chiames, the Chief Communications Officer of Carnival Cruise Line said, “We are saddened by the passing of our crew member and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones”.
He revealed that the cruise company regularly provided counselling and self-care resources to the crew and always kept in touch with them but somehow it wasn’t enough.
Another cruise shipping giant Royal Caribbean also faced a similar situation as the crew on their Navigator of the Seas cruise ship went on a hunger strike demanding release. The crew on another of their cruise ship, the Majesty of the Seas raised a banner with “How many more suicides do you need?!” written on it.
In a statement given to Bloomberg, Royal Caribbean said that the captains of the respective ships took necessary measures to address the issue and the company understood the frustration of the cruise workers.
Families File for Legal Recourse
Now, some of these families who have lost their seafarer family member is taking the cruise companies to court as they have filed for legal recourse.
Bloomberg spoke to the family of Jozsef Szallers, a 28-year-old Carnival cruise worker who died on their cruise ship in isolation.
Jozsef’s father Vilmos Szallers said that the legal recourse can’t bring back their child but it will give them peace.
“If the cruise company did something wrong, then I don’t think we’ll ever find out, because it’s such a huge entity and there’s such a vast financial network behind it. They just ignore us”, Vilmos added.