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Crew Members Denied Shore Leave in New York Again

Today December 27, the cruise ship Spirit of Discovery operated by Saga Cruises arrived in New York with around 530 crew members and 1000 passengers onboard. The ship will be docked in New York for two days and the majority of the crew will have to stay onboard because they are not allowed to go ashore due to new restrictions.

We received several emails from crew members suspecting that the restrictions are imposed by the Cruise Line and not from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Only the crew with more than two contracts for Saga Cruises or Officers with three stripes are allowed to go ashore (irrespective of crewmembers which had several contacts with other cruise lines before joining Saga).

Their suspicion is based on the previous announcement that the CBP restrictions were revoked in November this year and that the company is playing on the safe side just in case someone wants to desert the ship.

This is the message sent by one crew member ''The Captain announced today that crew members are not allowed to go ashore in New York where our ship Spirit of Discovery will be docked for 2 full days. We believe that it's a decision from the company but it's blaming the immigration authorities. We have so many new crew members and nobody wants to be responsible in case they desert. The CBP restriction concerning the shore passes to crew members in New York was revoked on November 1st. So from where this decision really came from?

Crew members are very disappointed. This short notice was ridiculous. They acted like they didn't know anything about the restriction. Like it was on last minute. We are not stupid. Some of the crew members in Saga came from different companies and have more entrances to USA than the old ones. No comments about the exception to officers with 3 stripes... ''

The following announcement was posted on the Crew Information Board before Spirit of Discovery docked in New York:

"As per Regulations in New York, all crew 1st and 2nd-time contract with the company are denied shoer leave"

Spirit of Discovery is a new ship launched in 2019 and for many of the crew on board is their first contract for the company, however, the majority of them are experienced crew members who have worked for other cruise lines.

According to another crew member, Saga Cruises choose to keep the crew 'hostage' and not risking someone abandoning the ship in New York before setting sail to Europe.

’’The captain just made an announcement stating that no crew allowed ashore, unless they have served 2 full contracts with Saga Cruises (irrespective of other contracts on different ships) or you are 3stripes above.

Frustrating that even with a C1-D and an I-95 we are effectively hostages.’

Many of us extended contracts, missing Christmas because let's be honest. It's New York!

They are asking everyone to hand in the I-95, which we all got in San Juan, for the purpose of going ashore in America. Ofcourse they don't want us to attempt to leave because it's rubbish what they say. Do they really expect us to believe that the immigration service is going to count the number of stripes you have? The company is just hiding behind the authorities. 

It seems the CBP restrictions were revoked in November, but the company chooses to keep us 'hostage' than risk someone running.''

This is the latest update we received from the crew member:

''We docked at 1pm local time, at which point the captain made an announcement saying that "they managed to secure passages ashore*" for the following nationalities.

  • Netherlands
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • United Kingdom. 

To me this further reinforces the fact that the company is refusing to let people go ashore, not the CBP.

Basically invoking the Visa waiver policy.’