INDONESIA. Ary was a cleaning crew on a cruise ship when more than 2,000 passengers disembarked from San Diego in March. “We are doing a temperature check every day, washing hands often, wearing N95 masks every time outside the cabin, sanitizing all around the ship including inside our cabins,” he said in an interview with Transcontinental Times from Manila Bay.
After an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship on 3 and 9 February 2020, with 172 passengers and crew testing positive, crew members are now required to follow a very strict sanitation plan onboard. These added sanitation measures became a burden, given that the workload is already high for crew members. The more luxurious the cruise, the better service they have to provide, which means more safety precautions.
The ship became empty when all cruises ceased as a result of the pandemic.
Social distancing had to be obeyed everywhere at all times. “Only two people at the same time are allowed inside one elevator,” Ary said.
The cruise ship was sailing to Manila and then to Indonesia, the home of Ary. However, he said that he would have rather stayed on board. “I feel safe here.”
While the cruise industry hosts approximately 93% Caucasians according to the statistics provided by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), on most cruise ships, the crew are from a range of lower-wage countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. Many of them work to support their families in their native countries.
The ship docked in Indonesia, and Ary and his coworkers got tested and immediately quarantined in a hotel. His test was negative, so he left the “isolated and safe” ship for his hometown. “I will try to find some other jobs while waiting for the next contract,” he said. No one knows when the next contracts will come leaving both the ships and the crew land-bound, for now.