Veteran seafarer felt suicidal while in quarantine on ship
A longtime cruise ship worker has revealed that in the two months he had to spend quarantined alone in a room, there were times that he felt suicidal.
Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on the condition of anonymity, the worker of over 15 years explained that all cruise ships of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) stopped sailing on March 14 or 15, after which the company monitored the situation.
He revealed that the first time that he became truly afraid was after an Indonesian crewmate had to be airlifted to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, but died one week later.
“It was really sad because I can tell you he was working with me, and…that’s what got me scared, when I heard of him, because I used to have meetings with this particular group two, three times per day,” the sailor recalled.
The ship’s captain made the announcement that the crewmember, who had underlying conditions, had died, and that it was as a result of COVID-19.
“When I heard that he passed away I said ‘My God’….that’s what really get me shaking,” he disclosed.
The sailor revealed that he was supposed to get on a March 25 flight from Miami to St Vincent and the Grenadines, but he ended up being unable to board this flight, and there were no available hotel rooms in Miami at the time.
He and other crewmembers had nowhere to go, but back to the ship.
“…When we got back to the ship we were placed into quarantine immediately. We were placed into quarantine and then three days into our quarantine, we had a rapid test for the COVID,” the sailor explained. Following this test, the result revealed one positive person who was taken into isolation.
“It was really frustrating for me going along because I never got to leave my room in quarantine until the sixth of May… from the 25th of March to the sixth of May,” the sailor commented.
Because they could not return home and because there were no longer any guests for them to assist, 70 per cent of the crew was placed in quarantine on March 28.
During this time, the ship was anchored off the coast of Miami near The Bahamas, going back at intervals for food and fuel.
“At one point I, to be honest, I was feeling suicidal at one point when I was locked away for so long because it wasn’t pretty,” he revealed.
“You’re by yourself in a room and people just bring food, they knock your door, take up your food, breakfast, lunch, dinner…” the sailor continued, and that was all.
“You were not allowed to open your door to communicate with anyone, you’re not allowed on the balcony to go close to anyone to talk. And it was frustrating,” he commented.
The sailor said this sentiment was shared by his other crewmates because normally, when on the ship, the sailors mostly use their room for sleeping, because of their work schedules.
“This anxiety with crew members being locked away in their room is not something they’re accustomed to,” he explained.
He said each sailor was separated from everyone else, when normally, they are used to having a roommate.
However, the sailor noted that he did feel safe and that the ship enforced protocols such as sanitizing and wearing of facemasks whenever they left their rooms.
“There were daily updates, there was a daily conference call at every midday between the ships and Miami office and the Captain used to come and make announcements over the general PA system and update,” the sailor said, and there was a dedicated co-channel so that they would know what was happening.
“Nothing was hidden from us. All the information was exposed to us,” he concluded.
The sailor commented that other crewmembers could attest to his view that their company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, treated them very well.
During the time that they were quarantined, although they were not working, the company paid them a sum for this time, he stated.
“With the other crew members we were not treated differently, Everybody was the same, as a family like how we always used to be,” the Vincentian revealed. He has plans to return to sailing when cruises resume.