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Published: December 17th 2021
When the pandemic hit I was just at the end of an 8 month contract on a cruise ship. I was supposed to go home for my vacation but that changed really quickly when the company announced the suspension of all cruises in mid-March 2020.
While some ships were even struggling to bring their guest home, we still managed to disembark all our guest safely in New York City. Most of the crew also got a chance to fly home that day. Not me though, I only disembarked the ship around two and a half month later.
The first days were good, they opened up the guest buffet, the gym, the pool and there were a few activities. Till the beginning of April we were docked in Nassau and at that time they still managed to fly a lot of crew members home. But things changed quickly, as a lot of countries around the world started to shut down.
After a while we went to dock in Jacksonville, Florida and the Miami for a few days. Another couple of crew members got to leave the ship, but since the US also shut down, they were only allowing charter
flights to pick up crew. Since I was the only German on board my country would not send a charter to pick me up. Life on board was slow after most of us stopped working. While we were still allowed to walk on deck, we had to keep our social distance. Most of the facilities and activities were shut down by now.
Mid-April they decided to have different ships sailing to various destinations around the world to bring crew home, since the US now shut down completely. Since we were not even allowed to transfer crew to the ships that would bring them to their home destination, crew had to be relocated in a different way. What we ended up doing was being transferred in international waters by life boats. I was going to a ship that headed for France together with a bunch of South Africa crew, that was supposingly going to London to catch a charter home. Also they ended up going home from France in the end.
The Atlantic crossing took almost a full month, but at least at this time I had a balcony cabin, also all I could see was water. You cannot
not imagine the excitement of our crew to see land when we passed the strait of Gibraltar. The month at sea was a long one, I slept a lot and highlights of the days included breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also the food was still pretty good and the chefs put a lot of efforts in keeping us healthy and happy. Apart from that we were allowed to hang out at the bars in the evenings, also had to keep our social distance. We did ran out of beers, then wine and at the end we were drinking some pink grapefruit something booze. I made a couple of new friends and I went for long walks in circles around the upper deck. I spotted some dolphins passing the ship once in a while which was exciting.
We didn’t end up going to France at that point, but docked in Barcelona for a few weeks. I finally got off the ship here when police picked me up and escorted me to the airport.
All in all I am kind of glad that I was on the ship for lockdown and not quarantined with my family at home in Germany. Also I
love me family, but this was a pretty unique experience. If you can forget about the fact that we slowly started running out of things like toilet paper, certain foods, toiletries, snacks and clean clothes.
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