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Many furloughed Pinoy cruise ship workers seen idle till 2021

Many furloughed Pinoy cruise ship workers seen idle till 2021
Recto Mercene September 7, 2020

MAJORITY of the furloughed Filipino cruise ship mariners are expected to remain jobless until the end of 2020 going into March of 2021 as major cruise lines operators have cancelled their scheduled operations this year, although some of the ships will start only by March 2021.

The bad news for more than 50,000 Filipino seamen, hoping to return to work this year, is that many ships might not return to service for many months to come, according to recruitment consultant Manny Geslani.

Observing the trend and announcement by several major cruise lines, he said the shipping companies have announced the suspension of departures until mid-March as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow.

“It’s very likely many major cruise lines will remain mostly shut down at least into the fall of 2020,” he said at the weekend.

While a few cruise vessels, mostly river ships, are sailing, a handful of ocean-going ships have resumed operations in Europe aimed at local vacationers. But, Geslani said, a few places such as French Polynesia and most major lines that cater to North Americans have canceled sailings through the end of October.

Last week, Cunard lines canceled sailings on all three of its vessels through late March 2021. One of the line’s ships won’t return to service until at least May 2021, while Princess Cruises has canceled most sailings into mid-December.

In North America, the cancellations are partly being driven by a “no-sail” order for cruise ships issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC ban currently extends through September 30, while a cruise ship ban by Canada will remain in effect until at least October 31.

Cruise lines also are contending with country-by-country travel restrictions and port closures around the world, Geslani added.

The recruitment and migration expert said almost a thousand Filipino seamen are now in Europe to start work for two of Carnival Corporation’s ships, Costa and Aida cruises.

Carnival’s Italian brand will be followed by Germany-based AIDA Cruises scheduled to resume on November 1.

The Italian brands will begin with six initial ships and limited itineraries, becoming the first two of Carnival’s nine brands to resume operations.

Adhering closely to Covid-19 health protocols, the initial cruises will take place with adjusted passenger capacity and enhanced health observations, developed with government and health authorities to follow shoreside mitigation guidelines, the company said.

Costa Cruises is restarting sailing with two initial ships departing from Italian ports beginning September 6.

The Costa Deliziosa will offer weekly cruises from Trieste on September 6, 13, 20 and 27, visiting five destinations in southern Italy, including Bari and Brindisi in Puglia, Corigliano-Rossano in Calabria, and Siracusa and Catania in Sicily.

The Costa Diadema will follow on September 19 from Genoa, calling at Italian ports in the western Mediterranean, including Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo, Cagliari and La Spezia. The one-week itineraries are being reserved exclusively for Italian guests.

AIDA Cruises will resume its cruise operations with two of its ships sailing from the Canary Islands in November 2020, followed by an additional two ships departing from the western Mediterranean and United Arab Emirates beginning in December 2020.

In working with global and national health authorities and medical experts, Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises have developed a comprehensive set of health and hygiene protocols to help facilitate a safe, healthy return to cruise vacations, according to a press release.

Once these initial cruises are proven to be safe for both passengers and crew, both cruise lines operators may expand their cruises with more ships on the line for the next few months and unto 2021.

This is expected to benefit Filipino mariners who are in high demand among all kinds of ships that sail the seven seas, Geslani said.