Staffordshire worker stuck on cruise ship says authorities have ‘forgotten’ him
A cruise ship worker from Staffordshire has been stuck at sea off southern America for almost seven weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Haydn Marklew is one of 1,200 crew members stranded aboard the Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, in Galveston, south Texas, after guests disembarked in mid-March.
The 24-year-old, from Cannock, was forced to spend 26 days confined to his cabin in self-isolation when two colleagues tested positive for Covid-19.
His hopes of getting home have been let down on a number of occasions because US authorities failed to approve chartered flights back, organised by the UK Government.
Mr Marklew, who is now social distancing and allowed to leave his cabin for food and exercise, said: “Royal Caribbean has been great and I feel really safe but I’m just finding it hard to motivate myself and want to get back home as soon as possible.
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“Two crew members tested positive for the virus and we all ended up having to isolate in a guest cabin. All of our food was delivered and we weren’t allowed out at all – there was low risk of contracting the infection but all it was just very frustrating.
“Now we just feel forgotten about. The news at home is that British people on cruise ships have gone home but we haven’t touched land for more than 50 days now.”
Mr Marklew is among 5,000 people to have signed a petition calling for cruise ship staff to be allowed home by the US authorities.
It comes after Royal Caribbean asked him and others to stay on the vessel for a short while after passengers disembarked.
But the escalation of the pandemic led to the CDC stopping commercial flights for crew members, leaving him stranded.
The former student at Staffordshire University Academy and Walton High School, in Stafford, added: “We were told the Government organised for us to fly home on March 28 but the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] didn’t acknowledge the request and it never happened.
“The next flight to Britain is scheduled for May 4 so we’re all just hoping that goes ahead and we can go back to our families.
“The flights haven’t been happening because the CDC hasn’t been working with the UK Government.
“Our only way to get home is through a chartered flight. We’ve heard they’re in the pipeline but just need them to get accepted.”
Mr Marklew, who has worked as a member of the youth staff at Royal Caribbean since graduating from Sheffield Hallam University, has been told to expect to fly back via Miami once they get the go-ahead to come home.
The ship returned to Galveston port on Wednesday this week after spending two weeks anchored off the Texas coast following the outbreak on board.
To read the ’Help get all British and Irish crew members safely back home’ petition visit change.org/p/royal-caribbean-international-to-get-british-and-irish-crew-members-back-home-from-cruise-liners
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