Royal Caribbean announced in a letter to crew members this week that the line will temporarily cancel all placements for crew members from India. This is in line with the majority of governments worldwide banning travel from and to the Indian subcontinent.
India has been struggling to contain the second wave of cases, one which sees the country seemingly unprepared for hundreds of thousands of new cases daily, with high casualty cases as a result. The situation in India and the developing and worsening situation in Asia, in general, will have cruise lines worried.
The temporary cancelation that Royal Caribbean decided to implement with immediate effect will be a hard blow for many crew members in India waiting for over a year for their assignments. According to Royal Caribbean, the decision has been based on the various travel restrictions that most nations have imposed in recent days.
Crew Center quoted the following from Royal Caribbean:
“It’s always unfortunate when we must cancel assignments but we believe this is a prudent decision at this time. We know how much our crew look forward to returning to work after waiting for so long. We also understand how tough it can be to have to make last minute travel changes. It’s not the way that we want to operate, but it is the reality of the quick changes we need to make based on different reasons that are often unplanned and beyond our direct control.”
Those crew members who are underway to join ships and those already in the port cities will not be allowed to join the ships. It would seem that Royal Caribbean is acting especially carefully as it will not want to jeopardize a return to cruises for any of their ships. Any cases of Indian mutations of COVID-19 which have ravaged India will be bad news for any vessel.
“Those crew members who are currently at hotels pending joining a ship or are currently en route (already flying) will be notified and accommodation will be provided under quarantine guidelines till further notice. They will be kept informed by the HR ops team as needed.”
According to Crew Center, more than 300 Indian crew members were assigned to join Anthem of the Seas; these assignments were all canceled. Indian crew already in St. Maarten to join Adventure of the Seas have been told they will not be allowed to board the vessel.
Will This Affect A Cruise Restart?
The current situation in India and the developing and worsening situation in the Philippines will have cruise lines worried about the restart. The majority of crew members onboard the cruise ships are from India and the Philippines, another country that sees increasing cases and full hospitals, and travel restrictions will play havoc on the cruise lines’ crewing schedules.
Will it affect the restart of cruising in the upcoming months? Likely not. Most cruise ships have already started crewing several ships, and the lines will likely increase their hiring in other countries.
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Travel from the Philippines remains open for now; however, the cruise lines will hope to see a significant decrease of cases in India and the Philippines in the upcoming weeks. Otherwise, it might just turn out to be a problem after all.