Variety Cruises Helps Cuban Crew Return Home Safely

A little Variety Cruises’ ship helped out in a big way when it ferried 19 crew members from the MSC Preziosa back to their home nation of Cuba.

Variety’s 25-cabin sailing ship, Panorama, had just completed a winter season cruising off the coast of Costa Rica and Panama. The ship only had crew members aboard and was heading to the Mediterranean for the summer season.

When it stopped to refuel in Barbados prior to crossing the Atlantic, the Panorama berthed near the big 139,072-gross-ton MSC Preziosa, a vessel that carries up to 4,360 passengers and 1,300 crew. Nineteen Cuban crew members were eager to return home but had few options given the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a request from the Cuban government, Panorama Capt. Vasilis Mazarakis agreed to repatriate the Cuban crew members to Havana on a cruise lasting seven days.

Health declarations were provided by the captain of MSC Preziosa and the Barbadian medical authorities, and the Cuban crew members were thermo-scanned prior to boarding as well as on every day of the journey.

“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,” Mazarakis said upon disembarking his charges on April 4 in Havana. “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 then made the seven-day return journey to Barbados prior to heading for Athens. In all, it was a 14-day diversion for the Panorama to do an act of maritime courtesy.

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