When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many regulations were put in place to protect citizens. Things like mandatory masks, regular hand washing notices, limits on social gathering, and more were the most publicly shared. In addition, Trump also ordered a no-sail mandate on all boating on March 13, which was primarily aimed at the cruise industry.
While passengers were able to disembark and return home to their families, crew were not as lucky. As of May 18, the number of crew stranded on cruise ships at sea or at port numbered more than 100,000. It’s unclear how many of these individuals have made their way home, but Brazilian DJ Caio Saldanha is now talking about his experience stuck, and forgotten, aboard Celebrity Cruises’ 1,000-foot Celebrity Infinity ship — a nearly 12-week floating prison.
Saldanha opened up about his experience in an interview with Vox. The cruise was supposed to last 24 weeks.
Before we embarked, we thought about the pandemic. We didn’t get information from the company before, but when we came to the US we saw Donald Trump on TV talking about the cruise ships, and how they were a dangerous environment, and the no-sail order. We got back to the company, and said, “Will we embark?” And they said that everything is fine. We embarked on March 14, and we got the message that we’ll be sailing to Tampa Bay, and that we didn’t have any information about what was going to happen in the future. That was the first day. It was very complicated.
Crew were told they would be quarantined for at least 14 days, but that was before the US extended the mandatory quarantine from April until July. The decision left many of the crew members worried about what would happen and in a horrid state of limbo.
The CDC allowed crew members to disembark from these ships, as long as the companies footed the bill for “the private transportation of their employees back to their home countries.” According to a report by the Miami Herald, company executives resisted the option, calling it “too expensive.” In an effort to skirt the law, the boats headed for other countries that were more lenient on travel. Saldanha’s ship headed to Barbados from where he flew home to Brazil. As of June 3, he’s back home.
Though the number of crew still currently stuck on ships hasn’t been updated since Miami Herald‘s original article in May, it’s likely still more than acceptable.
You can read Saldanha’s eye-opening full interview with Vox here.