Royal Caribbean International has outlined the steps it is taking to support crew members from both Ukraine and Russia amid the ongoing war between the two countries.
The worst European conflict since the end of the Second World War erupted this week when Russia invaded Ukraine, leaving many Ukrainian and Russian crew members anxious about events back home and the safety of their loved ones.
Royal Caribbean says it has around 500 Ukrainian and 200 Russian crew throughout the fleet, and is providing them with additional support during the crisis.
In a social media post, Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International said crew from both countries are being given access to all available communication channels so they can talk to their families.
Ukrainian crew wishing to end their contracts early in order to return to the country are also being offered assistance in getting home, or close to home in the case of those who have family who have been displaced by the fighting.
The cruise line is also welcoming Ukrainian crew early who were due to join ships later this year.
“We are trying to expedite any Ukrainian crew who wishes to join any of our ships earlier than scheduled,” Bayley said. “Counseling has been made available to them and ships captains and management are obviously in daily communication with them to offer assistance as needed.”
Bayley emphasised that the cruise line is also providing support to its Russian crew members, who are also watching the unfolding events with alarm.
“We also have over 200 Russian crew who also are concerned and anxious over these events and we are offering them the same support,” he said. “The Royal family is here for all our crew and our thoughts and prayers go out to all impacted by these events.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced more than 100,000 Ukrainians already, with the United Nations estimating that as many as 5-million may ultimately become refugees or internally displaced persons.
This in addition to the more than 1.5-million already displaced by a Russian-backed separatist uprising in the east of the country since 2014.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which commenced on Thursday morning, has forced cruise lines to cancel planned port calls in Odessa on Ukraine’s south coast, as well as Russian Baltic ports, such as St. Petersburg.
While the cancellation of Ukrainian ports of call are due to safety concerns amid the conflict, the cancellation of Russian ports appears to be in response to unprecedented sanctions introduced against Moscow due to the conflict.