British cruise ship crew members ‘desperate to get home’

A dancer stranded on a cruise ship in the Bahamas for more than a month has described each day as a rollercoaster of emotions, and said she is desperate to get home.

Lauren Carrick, 29, from Norwich, is a crew member on the Celebrity Infinity ship alongside her dancer fiance Joseph Harrison, 27, from Hull – and the pair are joined by around 900 other crew members.

Guests left the ship in mid-March due to the unfolding coronavirus crisis, and since then the couple have had to endure 21 days in which they were not allowed to even leave their cabin.

They have had their hopes of getting home repeatedly dashed, with plans for flights falling through four times due to US authorities not allowing the crew members to disembark.

Ms Carrick told the PA news agency: "We just want to be heard. We are so hopeless. There's nothing we can do.

"And as I say I feel like the company is trying and the American authorities are just saying no.

"It's just that we just feel like prisoners. Why are passengers allowed off but crew members aren't? Why are we different?"

She said there are no cases of Covid-19 on the ship and no one has symptoms.

Ms Carrick now feels the best way forward is for the ship to set sail and bring crew members home by sea.

"It just seems the most logical point of view, to sail, because we're a ship, that's what it's made for – transportation," she said.

Even if the ship did not sail to Southampton, she said they could hopefully get a flight from another country that would allow them to disembark.

"Me and Joe are desperate to get home," Ms Carrick said.

"It's just been a really challenging time, it's all I can describe it as.

"Obviously, physically we're fit and healthy but mentally... it's actually exhausting.

"You're not physically doing anything but you find yourself tired at the end of each day. And I think it's just because it's mentally draining," she said.

Ms Carrick added: "It's frustrating. You have a mixture of emotions everyday. It's like a big rollercoaster."

She said there was excitement when they thought they were going to be released out of their cabins and then tears when they heard they would be confined for another 72 hours.

"It's never like a constant feeling. It's always either upset, angry, frustrated, happy.

"There's different announcements every day. All I can describe it as is a rollercoaster for your mental health," she said.

A spokeswoman for Celebrity Cruises said: "We have no higher priority than keeping our guests and crew safe, healthy, cared for and well-informed. We have at all times worked in close coordination with government and health authorities and are grateful for their guidance.

"We are working with all appropriate authorities to ensure the safe return home of all our crew members."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are doing everything we can to help British crew on board cruise ships around the world, but this is a complex challenge during an unprecedented crisis.

"We are in direct contact with the operator of the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, as well as with many crew members and their families.

"We will continue to support tour operators to ensure the welfare and safety of British crew."

It is understood the Foreign Office has been working closely with Royal Caribbean, which owns the ship, to support their efforts to repatriate crew.

The Foreign Office said more than 19,000 British holidaymakers travelling on 59 liners around the world affected by the pandemic have been repatriated.