Crew on Standby as Cruise Lines Cancel Sign-on Dates due to Coronavirus Scare

Mar 01, 2020

The cruise industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus scare in Asia with more than 80 voyages cancelled by several cruise lines, and seven ports closed in the region.

While cruise lines do their best to modify additional voyages and redeploy their ships to Australia or start their European season earlier than scheduled, some cruise operators placed their ships on hold. Costa Cruises with four cruise ships deployed in Asia has been hit hardest with their non-operational vessels docked in the Nagasaki, with only crew onboard and canceled cruises since mid January. Cruise Industry News reported that Costa Asia had also cancelled March voyages aboard the neoRomantica, Serena, Atlantica and Venezia, due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

As the cruise industry suffers losses the crises reflect also on the crew who are back home waiting to join the ships. As the cycle of rotation of crew members has made big disturbances, many of the scheduled sign-on dates have been canceled until further notice. 

We have received several messages from concerned crew members who are on vacation waiting to join the ship. They say that their families depend on their salary since they are the main source of income, and with the current situation with the coronavirus outbreak they don’t know what to do. Some of them are waiting to re-join the ships since their scheduled sign-on dates in January.

A message from concerned Costa crew member says that the crew who are on vacation for a long time wants to know what the company is planning for future voyages.

“As Coronavirus has affected the China market and most of the companies have changed their Itineraries but Costa Asia has not changed. Costa ships in Asia are non-operational and are docked in Japan. There are four ships that are not embarking any guest and all the cruises for March have been canceled. The crew which is there inside the ship is been treated well and is been given their salary but the main problem is for Crew who is on Vacation and has not been given any notice and many of our fellow crew members who were supposed to join in January 2020 are yet home on vacation. Some crew has been on vacation for more than 6 to 7 months and they are facing big difficulties. We have heard from fellow crew members from different departments that Spa, Shops & Casino crew are the ones who have been hit badly due to this and many are home on vacation for a long time. We kindly ask help from Costa Cruisleines to at least inform the crew members of what exactly is going to happen or they can at least look for some other job. This is a very terrific situation an I hope Costa Cruiselines does something for the hardworking crew who is on vacation, we also pray for the Coronavirus victim's and their family to give them strength and support to deal with this situation.” says one crew member says

But not only Costa Asia crew is facing problems with the sign on dates. Dream Cruises has also suspended operations on all three cruise ships. 

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), last update from February 27, regarding the recent developments concerning COVID-19 says:

“CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea and China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation.”

There are reports that Thai crew sign on dates have been canceled as well by several cruise lines, stating that decision has been made that at present crew members who reside in Thailand will not be able to join the ship. Some of them have expressed their frustration saying they feel discriminated by the whole situation, and how the company is dealing with this issue. 

The latest report by a source states that one Italian officer has been denied to board the cruise ship, and was flown back home because of the current coronavirus outbreak in Italy.