As a small ship cruise company with hospitality and warm service at our core, and with Covid-19 Pandemic putting countries on a war footing, the spirit of co-operation and resilience in the face of adversity extends to the high seas.
The 25 cabin M/S Panorama repatriated 19 Cuban seamen and women from a large passenger liner in Barbados and made a special 14 day diversion upon an inspiring repatriation mission.
Having completed a winter season cruising off the coast of Costa Rica and Panama, Panorama was empty other than for the crew and en route to a summer of cruising in the Mediterranean. Stopping to bunker in Barbados prior to crossing the Atlantic, she berthed near the MSC Preziosa, a vessel that carries up to 4,360 passengers and 1,300 crew. 19 of the crew were Cuban and, given the constraints of Covid-19, they were eager to return home, but with no realistic option for doing so.
In cooperation with the Cuban Government, Panorama’s Captain, Vasilis Mazarakis, agreed to repatriate the Cuban crew members to Havana, a cruise lasting 7 days. Health declarations were provided by the Captain of MSC Preziosa and the Barbadian medical authorities, and the new addition of passengers were thermo-scanned prior to boarding and on every subsequent day of the journey.
The Cuban crew members signed a handwritten note , which said: “During this trip, we have sung, celebrated birthdays, laughed and enjoyed every moment together as a family. There was never a dull moment. It has been an incredible and unforgettable experience. We thank the captain and his crew for taking us in and helping us to get home during these exceptional times. We will always carry you in our hearts.”
Panorama is now making the 7 day return journey to Barbados prior to heading for Greece.
Captain Mazarakis said of his courteous act: ‘During these difficult times we are facing, it is important to help each other. Knowing that we were helping fellow seafarers by getting them back to their families makes us all proud. We wish and hope that all stranded crew and passengers alike manage to get home to their loved ones and that the world will return to normal soon.’
Variety Cruises prides itself in offering more than yacht cruises, in fact providing enriching cultural immersion experiences that often involve gestures of giving back to society which we perceive as the ultimate form of cultural exchange.