Royal Caribbean will begin hiring Indian crew by the end of the month, along with crew from other countries where COVID-19 case numbers are surging, according to Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, which owns Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, is the world’s second-largest cruise company after Carnival Corporation, and was one of the first to suspend the hiring of Indian crew due to surging COVID-19 cases in the country.
That move was followed by the wider cruise industry, affecting other countries from which crew are traditionally sourced, including South Africa, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.
Now, however, Royal Caribbean has indicated this policy will be dropped by the end of the month, with Indian crew members, as well as those from other countries, welcomed back aboard the company’s ships ahead of a return to service.
Bayley said the company will start bringing on Indian crew again on May 21, with new enhanged safety protocols.
“We are re starting crewing from India on May 21st. There will be enhanced protocols to ensure safety,” he said in a Facebook post.
These safety protocols will include quarantining, charter flights and multiple PCR tests.
According to Bayley’s post, it seems crew will receive a PCR test in their home country, spend 14 days in quarantine, take another PCR test, take a chartered flight to the port in which the ship is based, take another PCR test, receive the vaccine, quarantine again, get tested again, and only then will they board the ship.
“Hopefully these enhanced protocols will only be in place for a short time as we all become vaccinated,” Bayley said. “Other countries where the pandemic is surging will have same protocols. FYI. Crew contracts will be lengthened during this period by two months.”
“All details will be presented to each crewmember before the journey begins,” he added.
The news has been celebrated by the cruise line’s staff on Facebook, with many of Royal Caribbean’s Indian crew particularly welcoming the cruise line’s vaccination program, as there are widespread vaccine shortages within Indian currently.