According to crew members who wish to remain anonymous, NCL has assembled employees from several different NCL ships aboard the Norwegian Escape which is sailing to Miami this morning. NCL reportedly took this step to reduce costs involved in the repatriation process.
On Thursday, the company finishing what a crew member called a “huge operation” involving nine cruise ships (Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Dawn and one Oceania ship.)
NCL’s plan is for European crew members to join the Norwegian Breakaway and non-Europeans to join the Norwegian Escape. The transfers took place via tenders. This occurred last week while the ships were at Great Stirrup Cay.
Crew members stated that crew members were cramped together with no social distancing observed. One crew member described the ship as “ridiculously crowded.”
Several photographs taken by crew members on Thursday evening show hundreds of crew members socializing together on an open deck.
“We were not assigned separate living quarters as expected . . . Two individuals assigned to a small cramped guest staterooms. No privacy, no social distancing. In an environment with 3800 crew members, we are fearful for our safety.”
We believe that the Company doesn’t care about us anymore and they are more focused on cutting cost as opposed to protecting our health and safety. When asked about our living arrangements, the answer is that ‘This is directives from Miami.'”
Yesterday, we reported on the death of the senior ship doctor on the Norwegian Gem. Other crew members reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, including a nurse who became seriously ill.
I received the last comment this morning from a crew member from the Norwegian Gem who had been transferred to the Norwegian Escape:
“We are hoping that we are sent home immediately as we all fear for our health and safety here onboard. We are due to arrive in Miami this morning. It feels like a disaster waiting to happen.”
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Several crew members state that NCL is refusing to permit them access to single cabins, even though they are available. This is in clear violation of CDC regulations.
One crew member stated:
“I am a crew member currently on board the NCL Escape. I was transferred here two days ago per the fleetwide transfer.
Currently on board approximately 90% of the crew members are sharing their cabins with at least one crew member. But some people are sharing with as many as four people.
The vast preponderance of other crew members who have requested a single cabin, are being told they are not entitled to a single cabin because of their original contracted position. Which is in contravention with our status as stand down crew.
These people were also told they could not even go into a single crew cabin, because: “Housekeeping has already cleaned those cabins.”
Despite the obvious health risks, and with crew members from the NCL Gem which a) had confirmed cases of Covid-19 and b) suffered a fatality two days ago; the Escape has refused to put people in single cabins. There are more than enough cabins available owing to the refusal of the NCL Getaway crew to stay on the Escape.”
Another crew member stated:
“I’m on the Norwegian Escape right now. We have been queuing in our HR lines every day to try to get single living arrangements. Some have reported their roommates feeling ill but not wanting to go to the on board medical, and the HR and guest service representatives have only advised that because of our positions, ie housekeeping, cruise staff, art gallery, photographers, or even youth counselors, we are “not entitled” to single cabins – because “they’ve already cleaned the crew cabins” and we cannot “just request it” – when bringing up our fear for health and safety, they relay the same message ‘because of your position on board, you are not entitled to a single cabin.’”
Another crew member said the following:
“Please keep me Anonymous: this is what we received since the picture was leaked. TEAM ESCAPE PLEASE READ AND ACKNOWLEDGE SEE IMPORTANT NOTES FROM SHIP MEETING WITH CAPTAIN Due to a lovely crew member onboard that sent pictures to the media, this has now resulted in the flexibility we had to keep crew happy to now stop. If you are more than 4 to a table on dk 16 or in spice h2o you will not be asked to move you will be asked to Leave and return to your cabin. Dk 8 bar for water and sode has now been closed completely and almost all tables and chairs have been cleared you must smoke and then leave not just sit there. In the eating places there will now be a empty table in between each one so going for food you will have to wait till people leave before you can enter so will take longer to eat. They were expected to have flights in a couple of days for some countries but now they have been postponed due to the actions of this crew member. The CDC is now evaluating the issue. Security will now be increased around the ship to make sure crew members abide by these rules. If the rules are not being adhered to then the next step will be crew are to remain in their rooms and eat only at the allotted time only. Please dont let it come to this Thank you”
May 3, 2020 Update: The Daily Mail published an article titled Shocking images emerge from ‘ridiculously overcrowded’ Norwegian Escape cruise ship that is repatriating 3,800 non-European crew members to Miami as staff complain about tiny shared rooms and NO social distancing.
Photo credits: Anonymous crew members (photo showing face of crew member wearing NCL shirt intentionally blurred).