Maritime charity Sailors’ Society is supporting the crews of cruise ships anchored around the UK coast by receiving their online shopping and post.
The goods can be delivered to the Southampton seafarer centre and the charity workers will bring the shopping and post to the ships when they come into port for supplies and maintenance.
Several ships, manned by skeleton crews of around 150, regularly come into Southampton, but the crews are restricted to a small area of the port because of coronavirus.
Centre manager, Simon Mobsby delivered more than 200 parcels last month to the seafarers and undertakes trips to the supermarket should they need anything.
He’s expecting the demand to be greater as Christmas approaches. “They have no access to the outside world at all, so I do it on their behalf,” he explained. “Their faces light up when I bring them letters and gifts from family and friends. It’s a privilege to be able to play Santa.”
The charity is also wrapping its own Christmas gifts for the crews, most of whom have been on the ships since before coronavirus hit in March. And Mobsby is even delivering gifts from one cruise ship to the other.
“People who worked together in the past are now on different ships and they’ve not been able to see each other for nine months,” he added. “One crew sent a gift order to me on WhatsApp and I delivered the presents to the other ship. When I explained who they were from, they were over the moon.”
The Sailors’ Society has received gift donations for seafarers from its supporters, as well as a grant from the International Transport Workers’ Federation/International Christian Maritime Association to provide small Christmas parcels in a few of the other ports.
ICSI would like to commend this action and also wish everyone involved in the cruise industry a happy holiday, despite the most difficult of circumstances that we find ourselves in, especially in the UK.
Let us hope this shipping industry sector returns to something like normal sooner rather than later in 2021.