UPDATE: Since this article was published, Norwegian Cruise Line said all performers had begun to disembark the ship as of March 27. See full comment at the end of the article.
Performers from the UK who are stranded on a cruise ship outside of Miami have described feeling “scared and stressed” as they wait for news of when they they will be flown home.
The Stage understands that, at the time of writing, about 18 performers from the UK and Ireland are being kept on the Norwegian Encore ship, which has not had passengers on it for the past two weeks. The performers were involved in two productions, Kinky Boots and The Choir of Man.
The performers said they have been promised they will be sent home as a “matter of urgency”, but said they are not being kept informed about the developing situation and that their shows stopped being performed on March 13.
They are concerned that as more flights are cancelled and borders are closed, they will not be able to get back to the UK. In addition, they have been told that once their contracts end – which for some is the end of March – they will no longer be paid, even if they are still on the ship.
One performer told The Stage: “We as a company have been lied to repeatedly concerning arrangements for repatriation following the outbreak of coronavirus, and the subsequent closure of all cruise lines. We have been told repeatedly that we will be sent home as a matter of urgency, given various dates which have all passed, and are now being kept unnecessarily as flights to the UK dwindle in number.”
He added: “We are scared and stressed and anxious to get home to our families, yet are met with insensitivity and a complete lack of information or communication, and those of us from The Choir of Man reach the end of our contract on March 29, and will thenceforth receive no further pay, even if kept on board.”
Another told The Stage he was scared he could be on the ship for months, without pay.
“This is such an extreme circumstance as we keep reading how things are being shut down and we are still here, and they don’t give us any communication as to why we are not getting flights. They don’t tell us directly. We have never been given a meeting or a message to us directly,” he said.
A spokeswoman for NCL said: “We announced a temporary suspension of all voyages embarking between March 13 and April 11, 2020 aimed at contributing to efforts around the globe to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. During this time, we remain committed to our team members and value their loyalty, passion and determination as we navigate this global situation.
“We remain in constant communication with local port and government authorities to ensure a timely disembarkation for crew members returning home during this period. The cast members started disembarking the ship today.”