Variety Cruises Yacht Gets 19 MSC Crew Members Home to Havana

The 19 seamen and women and M/S Panorama crew upon Variety Cruises’ repatriation mission, April 1 2020
The 19 seamen and women and M/S Panorama crew upon Variety Cruises’ repatriation mission, April 1 2020

Published Apr 12, 2020 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

With people around the world talking about the COVID-19 pandemic putting countries on a war footing, it is good to know the spirit of co-operation and resilience in the face of adversity extends to the high seas. The 25-cabin Variety Cruises vessel 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. 

Following a request from Cuban Government officials, Panorama’s Captain, Vasilis Mazarakis, agreed to repatriate the Cuban crew members to Havana, a cruise lasting seven 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. 

Upon disembarking his charges on April 4 in Havana, 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.”

Panorama is now making the seven day return journey to Barbados prior to heading for Athens. 

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