Saskatoon woman among hundreds still stuck on cruise ship amid COVID-19, unable to leave

Saskatoon woman among hundreds stuck on cruise ship amid COVID-19
WATCH: A Saskatoon woman is among hundreds of crew members she said have been trapped on a cruise ship for over a month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A woman from Saskatoon is among hundreds of crew members she says have been trapped for over a month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julianna Roslinski’s ship was in the United States when COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in mid-March.

Passengers were able to leave her ship, she said, but not staff.

“You’re stuck here in the middle of the ocean while a world epidemic is going on and you’re not anywhere near your family or your friends,” Roslinski said, speaking to Global News via Skype from the atrium of her ship, the Norwegian Epic.

READ MORE: Passengers on world cruise expected to disembark after spending weeks without docking

Roslinski, 20, was supposed to be home in Saskatoon earlier this month. Instead, she’s on the water outside the Port of Miami with no idea when she’ll get back to Canada.

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She was on a six-month contract as a photographer with Norwegian Cruise Line.

She was originally on their ship, the Norwegian Sun, when the pandemic hit, and was transferred to the Epic on March 21.

Since then, she says that ship has taken her from Port Canaveral, a port in Florida, to the Bahamas, then to Miami.

Her ship is now “on the water” outside of Miami, Roslinski said, adding they’re not predicted to head back to shore until Wednesday, April 22.

“It seems like we’re just kind of in a loop, we’re not really getting anywhere with getting home and that’s our main goal,” she said.

Roslinski is one of two Canadians that she knows of on board. She estimates there are about 900 crew left in total.

READ MORE: Cruise ships have always struggled with outbreaks. Will things change after COVID-19?

Two medications she needs have run out, and she claims the ship said it can’t get her more. One medication controls bleeding, something she may require hospitalization for if not addressed.

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Thankfully, the ship was able to find another crewmember with similar medication she can take. It’s a small improvement, but not permanent, as the medication runs out on May 9.

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“It’s quite scary because the world is very unpredictable at the moment and we don’t really know where we’ll be going next,” she said.

Roslinski also claims the ship is not returning crewmembers’ passports. Global News spoke with another crewmember, who wished to remain anonymous, who confirmed the cruise was holding their passports.

The ship takes them when the crew first comes on board to keep people from jumping ship. It’s industry standard, according to the other crew member, but only for employees.

Roslinski’s contract was terminated early because of the pandemic, meaning she’s no longer an employee, but she says the ship still won’t give her passport back.

“I’ve asked for it and that’s what they’ve told me, that ‘We just can’t provide you your passport because you have no flight [to leave],” she said.

Roslinski said two other Canadians on board were given their passports and allowed to leave, but only after they booked their own charter flight.

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With restrictions on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada extended for another 30 days, Roslinski isn’t optimistic she could find a flight for herself.

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. land border closure extended by 30 days, Trudeau says

Some staff on other Norwegian ships appear to be having similar issues getting home.

A petition online is calling for a performer on another ship to be brought home to England after a similar ordeal as Roslinski.

Norwegian Cruise Line has been sending employees back to their home counties, including some on the Epic, according to Roslinski, who has seen internal postings to that affect.

However, she said they’re only sending big groups from the same country so far. That leaves Roslinski worried she and the other Canadian on board are very low on the list.

“The fact we’re not getting a clear plan of how they’re going to get us home is also a little bit concerning,” she said.

Global News reached out to Norwegian Cruise Line about these allegations. No one responded to multiple requests.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.