‘Ovation of the Seas’, a luxury cruise liner owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, arrived at the offshore container terminal (OCT) berth of Mumbai Port Trust on Monday, to drop off 870 crew stranded on board after the coronavirus outbreak forced the cruise line owner to suspend services.
This is the biggest repatriation of cruise line crew from a luxury liner to India after the Government allowed crew change for Indian seafarers at Indian ports on April 22.
The New York Stock Exchange-listed Royal Caribbean Cruises is the world’s second biggest cruise line operator after Carnival Corporation & plc.
On May 12, J M Baxi & Co helped 168 Indian crew disembark from ‘Seven Seas Voyager’, operated by Miami, Florida-based Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a unit of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
On April 23, it managed the disembarkation of 145 Indian seafarers from ‘Marella Discovery’, a cruise liner owned by the United Kingdom (UK)-based travel company TUI Group.
If not for dropping off the crew, these luxury liners would never have called at any of the Indian ports as part of its itinerary.
J M Baxi & Co will manage the crew disembarkation of five more cruise ships including two bigger luxury liners next week: ‘Anthem of the Seas’, also owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, which is enroute to Mumbai carrying 3,000 Indian crew and Celebrity Infinity, a cruise liner owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises, with 1,400 crew.
About 23,000 Indians employed on cruise ships were stranded across the globe in the wake of the pandemic and their owners had repatriated some of them on chartered flights to Mumbai and Goa.
Cruise lines have also travelled thousands of nautical miles just to repatriate the stranded Indian crew to their country.