Samoans at sea say safety assured

A group of 25 Samoan crew on a cruise ship say their safety on board is assured despite missing their families desperately after their contracts were extended amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Speaking to Samoa Observer, one of the sailors on the MSC Meraviglia , Titi Mika, from Savai'i, said though the virus is dangerous worldwide, their safety was not at risk. 

"We're mainly here in America and Mexico where the health security is very tight and well managed and where there is very low [numbers] of the virus," he said.

"We're always keeping our prayers and staying positive and our country and families should also do the same."

Despite longing to be reunited with his daughter, Mr. Mika is positive he'll be back in three months time with the other Samoan sailors.

One of their 25 Samoan crew members has been sent back to Samoa as management cuts down on crew salaries as demand for cruising holiday drops amid broader tourism downturn, a staff member said. 

"We're very much dealing with the lack of passengers which is our top concern right now but in terms of our safety, we're very well taken care of and we're very safe," he said.

Last week, the Samoa Shipping Services (S.S.S) Chief Executive Officer, Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai said a total of 60 Samoan sailors are maintaining and extending their contracts on the ships due to the pandemic.

“[The] safest option for us is to delay their contracts until further notice because the ships visit the affected countries on those sides of the world,” he said.

“Our sailors are safe especially on the ship and we’re being updated daily of their welfare on the ships and so far from the shipping company, they’re very safe.”

But while he is determined to remain positive for his families in Samoa, Mr. Mika said: “I cannot escape the thought that there is still a chance I can be affected by this dangerous virus and that I might not make it back home if I do.

“I’m missing my daughter and relatives back home so much that I want to return early and it’s hurting me as well as the other sailors here to experience this.”

It is the dream of everyone who sails the sea to see wide horizons themselves but only when that is tempered by the feeling of returning home to their families, Mr. Mika said. 

More than 3800 passengers disembarked from the ship at Miami on Sunday local time. But it was not clear when Mr. Mika would get the chance to return home, he said. 

He said he has been longing to do so after months of separation from his family. 

Mr. Mika and his fellow Samoan sailors urged Samoa to pray for their safety as well as the affected countries.

"This is where we stand as a Christian nation and I believe in the power of prayer,” he said. 

Other Samoans at sea at the moment include Afa Ioapo, Anani Faafetai, Palemia Lagaaia, Niulala Faaumuina, Teveli Teveli, Landy Faasavalu, Vaa Muga, Toelau Sisifo, Luafiku Aleki, Derrick Iatua, Taufusi Maiava, and Apineru Leota 



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