Seamen eye shore leave, family visits on cruise ships



Even as the Goa government and the Mormugao Port Authority (MPA) are working on a plan to set up a world cruise terminal at the Mormugao Port, to give further boost to tourism, Goan seafarers employed on the cruise ships berthing at the Port have nothing to cheer about.

Reason: Neither the seafarers are allowed shore leave at the Port nor are they allowed to take their kith and kin on board the cruise ships docked at the Port. This may seem rather strange, more so when the seamen spend weeks away from their dear ones and do not get the opportunity for a reunion and spend time with their families when the passenger ships dock at Mormugao.

Seafarers say visits by the family members to Mormugao Port would only bring emotional joy and a bonding with their near and dear ones after weeks away from home.

Taking up cudgels for the seafarers, the Goan Seamen Association of India (GSAI) has dashed of a letter to the Chairman of the Mormugao Port Authority, Dr N Vinod Kumar with a plea to grant shore leave to seafarers and family visits onboard the ship.

In the letter, GSAI requested the MPA to consider allowing shore leave for seafarers and to take their families on visits on board while their ships are docked at the port. “Seafarers often spend several weeks or months away from their loved ones. Allowing the seafarers to spend some quality time with their families during their visits to the Mormugao Port would bring immense joy and emotional well-being to both seafarers and their families”, stated GSAI President Frank Viegas.

The GSAI also requested the MPA to review and revise the existing policies and procedures, allowing seafarers to avail shore leave whenever feasible and safe. “By granting them this privilege, the MPA will contribute to their overall happiness, job satisfaction, and subsequently enhance the efficiency and productivity of the port”, he said.

Frank pointed out that to facilitate family visits, shipping agents should work closely with the ship management and crew to ensure proper coordination and planning. “This may include making necessary arrangements for security clearances, providing suitable accommodation and facilities for family members on board and activities during the visit”, he said.

Saying that there may be certain limitations or operational constraints associated with port visits, he said shipping agents should make genuine efforts to accommodate and support seafarers’ requests for family visits whenever possible. Considering the well-being and happiness of seafarers and their families should be a priority not only for shipping agents but for the entire maritime industry, he said.

He added: “With families coming to visit, there will be an increase in tourism activities in Mormugao Port as they will explore nearby attractions and contribute to the local economy. During the visit, families can spend quality time with their loved ones, creating cherished memories in an otherwise challenging profession. They can explore different parts of the ship, witness the day-to-day operations, and even dine together in the ship’s mess. This unique experience allows families to better understand the routines and demands of their seafaring relatives, fostering empathy and support”.

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