Published on Monday, August 10, 2020

Lawsuit claims cruise ship crew were 'held hostage'

A lawsuit recently filed against short cruise operator Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line alleges crew members were 'held hostage' during the early days of the coronavirus shutdown.

The federal class action suit filed last week says foreign ship workers were kept on the ship often for several months without pay and forced to continue carrying out routine tasks.

The line 'forced all crew members aboard the ship to sign a document stating they were voluntarily staying onboard, without pay' it claimed.

"Crewmembers were forced to sign these agreements by being threatened that they would not be rehired if they did not sign," the lawsuit stated.

"This system of requiring crewmembers to work, without pay, is the equivalent of forced labor or peonage."

Lead plaintiff Dragan Janicijevic said he and others were 'kept captive' for months on the Grand Celebration ship as the cruise line said it could not afford charter flights to send crew home as per requirements issued by the CDC.

Although there were no operating cruises and no guests were aboard, crew members were forced to clean and cook without pay.

The cruise line hasn't denied the allegations but says it has worked hard to get crew members home.

"Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with local governments around the world to repatriate as many of our crew members as possible," a statement said.

"For those whose governments have closed their borders and not permitted them to return, we have provided accommodations, food and onboard credit for incidentals."

The cruise line says 90% of crew members have safely made it home.

The US Coast Guard told USA TODAY there are still about 12,000 cruise ship workers stuck on ships moored in US waters more than four months after the cruise shutdown.


By Ray Montgomery, US editor

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