COVID-19 INVOKES DUNKIRK SPIRIT IN SMALL SHIP RESCUE
With people around the world talking about the Covid-19 Pandemic putting countries on a war footing, it’s good to know the spirit of co-operation and resilience in the face of adversity still extends to the high seas. This was certainly the case when the 25 cabin Variety Cruises vessel Panorama ‘rescued’ 19 Cuban seamen and women from a large passenger liner in Barbados and made a special 14 day diversion to repatriate them.
Having finished a winter season cruising off the coast of Costa Rica and Panama, Panorama was empty other than crew, en route to a summer of cruising in the Mediterranean. Stopping to bunker in Barbados prior to crossing the Atlantic, she berthed near the MSC Prezioza, a vessel that carries up to 4,360 passengers and 1,300 crew. The photo above (taken in Kotor, Montenegro) shows the size of Panorama in comparison to one of Prezioza’s sister ships.
19 of the crew were Cuban and, given the constraints of Covid-19, keen to return home but with no realistic option for doing so. Following a request from Cuban Government officials, Panorama’s Captain, Vasilis Mazarakis, agreed to repatriate the Cuban crew members to Havana, a cruise taking 7 days. Health declarations were provided by the Captain of MSC Prezioza and the Barbadian medical authorities, and the new complement of passengers was thermo-scanned prior to boarding and on every subsequent day of the journey.
The Cuban Government covered the cost of the fuel, otherwise no charge was made. Upon disembarking his charges on April 4th in Havana, Captain Mazarakis said of his courteous act (which you might think is another reason to vote for us in the Silver Travel Awards – see below):
‘During these difficult times we are facing, it is important to help each other. Knowing that we were helping fellow seafarers by getting them back to their families makes us all happy. We wish and hope that all stranded crew and passengers alike manage to get home to their loved ones and that the world will return to normal soon.’
The world returning to normal is a sentiment we all share at Seafarer and Variety Cruises so, if you would like to do something normal now like booking for the coming winter season which starts in November, along with a full Summer 2021 season, we would love to hear from you.