Four hundred Samoan seafarers are stranded on several cruise ships in the Caribbean and are seeking assistance from the New Zealand government to help them return home.
The seafarers are currently employed on 17 different cruise liners excluding container ships, which were all forced to stop operation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ships are believed to be anchored off between the Miami coast and the Bahamas.
Many of the other seafarers who come from countries such as India or Indonesia have been repatriated back home.
However, last month Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi urged the seafarers to be patient, “learn to keep themselves busy and await the opening of international borders.”
Talamua Online News reported Tuilaepa had said the safest place for them was on board the ships where they were being taken care of in all areas, including wages.
“Repatriation has many risks with the number of flights needed, so they are much safer being cared for on board the ships for now,” Tuilaepa said.
But Samoa First Union and First Union in New Zealand were concerned about the situation and the president of First Union had written a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters to alert him to the seafarers’ plea for help.