PH embassies in Oslo, Copenhagen look after Filipino seafarers

Published August 23, 2020, 6:03 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippine Embassies in Oslo and Copenhagen have stepped up their consultations with the management and owners of cruise ships employing Filipinos as crew members amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) that severely affected the shipping industry worldwide.
Philippine Ambassador to Norway Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia received Hurtigruten Cruises Chief Executive Officer Daniel Skjeldam at the Philippine Embassy in Oslo on August 14, 2020 to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak that recently struck the hybrid-powered cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen.

During their discussion, Skjeldam briefed the Embassy on the measures being taken by Hurtigruten to ensure the wellbeing of its crew, most of whom are Filipinos, who are infected by the virus and uplift their morale. 

Skjeldam also informed the Embassy of the cruise company’s future plans, particularly about the crew, even as he expressed hope that Hurtigruten will weather the current storm caused by the pandemic.

The Norwegian cruise company is in constant touch with the Embassy to regularly update it on the health and safety of its crew. 

Batoon-Garcia reassured Skjeldam that the Philippines will continue to be a source of skilled and professional seafarers. 

Hurtigruten was prompted to suspend the scheduled visit of the world’s first battery-powered cruise liners to Fort William next month after a number of the crew and passengers on its current voyage in the Arctic tested positive for coronavirus.
Reports indicated that several crew members and guests on MS Roald Amundsen have reportedly tested positive of coronavirus infection. Some 36 have tested positive among the crew and six among the guests.
The ship is now docked in Tromsø, Norway with no guests on board.

In Copenhagen, Philippine Ambassador Leo Herrera-Lim welcomed the arrival of the second batch of 167 Filipino seafarers in the Danish capital on August 13, 2020, as he cited the crucial role they play in the world trade and commerce.
The Filipino diplomat vowed to exert all efforts to assist the seafarers in safely boarding their vessels during the current worldwide health crisis. 

He said the Embassy will continue to dialogue with the seafarer’s employer Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world, for best practices such as quarantine before departure/upon arrival in Manila, testing before departure/upon arrival, among others.