Turkish staff travel on luxury US cruise ship to return home

A cruise ship that has sailed away from the U.S. is due to arrive in Turkey later this month to bring its 36 Turkish employees back home, who have been stuck in the vessel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cruise lines across the world suspended their operations in the wake of the outbreak and personnel on board could not return to their countries because of travel restrictions. Since keeping personnel on board is costly, the companies decided to use their own vessels to bring staff back home.

Carnival Magic

One of those vessels is the luxury cruise ship Carnival Magic, operated by U.S-based cruise company Carnival. It departed from the U.S on May 4 with 1,600 staff on board for a long journey.

“We are at sea for seven months. In March, cruise liners stopped. When the flights were cancelled, we could not fly back home and started staying on these ships,” said a Turkish worker who remained anonymous due to company rule.

“The company has to pay $1,200 salary to us even if we don’t work. Given that the company has more 100 liners and a minimum of 1,500 workers on each; bringing us home costs less, I guess. We are happy, we want to go home,” added the same employee.

Another Turkish staff said they were told they would land in Istanbul, but it is not certain yet. “İzmir is an alternative destination,” the employer said.

“Our journey started on May 4. We strictly followed the measures taken against the virus. First, we were at Level 4 category, not allowed to go out of our rooms. There was no sign of the virus, so we jumped to Level 3. We could eat at the restaurants, leave the rooms for a limited time, spend an hour at the deck. When we crossed Gibraltar, we were at Level 2. We can be at decks with social distancing,” the Turkish staff said.

If the cruise ship comes to Istanbul, it will approach Galataport. The port, which had been under construction for a long period, was supposed to welcome its first cruise on April 5. However due to coronavirus outbreak, it was cancelled. But if Carnival Magic docks in Galataport, the port will welcome its first cruise ship.

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