103 stranded Mauritian crew arrive safely home

Port of Santos, Brazil, where the cruise crew were stranded since March 2020. Credit: Port of Santos.

Mauritian crew stranded on three Mediterranean Shipping Co. Cruises passenger vessels off Brazil since March have finally returned home, following swift company action after crew threatened a hunger strike.

The 103 crew on board the MSC Seaview, MSC Poesia, and the MSC Musica at anchor off the port of Santos, Brazil, were among an estimated 1,000 Mauritians still stranded on passenger vessels worldwide.

The crew refused breakfast and lunch on 8 September, threatening a full hunger strike if the company did not get them home.

The crew wrote to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for help, with both ITF and Brazilian maritime authorities boarding the vessel on 12 September.

MSC Cruises, a Swiss-based company which posted EUR2.7 billion (USD3 billion) turnover in 2018, according to their website, heeded the crew protest within 24 hours, announcing the repatriation flights would go ahead. The crew boarded flights home on 16 September.

“MSC cruises has at all times looked after the wellbeing of its crew members,” MSC Cruises Mauritius based agent Oceangoers manager Natalia Brasse told SAS. “We fully understand that these are very difficult circumstances for our Mauritian compatriots awaiting to return home to their families,” she said.

The seafarers were stuck on board the vessels, off pay, and separated from families since the COVID-19 pandemic aborted cruise line operations in March, stranding an estimated 90,000 cruise line seafarers worldwide.