Owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the cruise ship MSC Fantasia departed from Brazil on 9 March on its way to Italy but it never made it to its final destination due to covid-19 outbreak.

The ship was diverted to Lisbon with 1,338 passengers and around 500 crew member on 22 March.

Immediately after, the first group of 27 passengers (Portuguese nationals and residents) disembarked from the ship.

Remaining passengers have not been tested. The testing was left to the passengers’ own countries as they were rushed to the airport by police escort on 24 March. They were mostly from EU, Britain, Brazil and Australia. They were repatriated, with flights charted by MSC Cruises[1].

Since then the crew –around 500- are still onboard, not getting paid and still waiting for an unknown date of repatriation. They are most likely to be non-EU as they are told that their embassies are informed but borders are closed. They are confined individually in the cabins, not allowed to step out. Food is provided from outside. They have very slow Wi-Fi connection which hardly allows them to make WhatsApp calls.

The Captain makes daily announcements and updates them. Indeed, what is announced since a month is that there is no update regarding to their return home.

In the announce made on 21 April that I recorded from outside of the ship, the Captain talks about “a colleague” who has some health condition yet “not related to covid-19 “, it is not clear what health condition it is. The Captain thanks the crew at the end of recording and asks crew to “turn their device off when not using internet, so the speed of internet can be increased as the company needs it”.

I reached out to crew. Keeping anonymous, for some of them, the ship seems safer than their own country, for now. For others, they prefer to be confined in their home, with families.

When it comes to the 1,338 passengers who pay thousands of euros for luxury cruise holiday, authorities announced proudly that they have been “repatriated” successfully. When it comes to crew, they are still onboard, without getting paid and awaiting any news regarding their return home.