Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

Cruise ship fans often say it is the crew that make the cruise experience and keep passengers coming back, year after year, to the same lines and ships.

One couple, Steve and Janet Randall, and many of their fellow Silversea Venetian Society members, put their money where their mouths are. The Randalls, who have accumulated 1,670 sailing days with Silversea, established a fundraiser last month to benefit the line's crewmembers while the global cruise ship fleet is grounded.

It has so far raised almost $100,000.

More than 350 donors have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, which launched Dec. 21 with the goal to raise $75,000. The Randalls have since upped the fundraising goal to $125,000, to which Silversea will add an additional $70,000.

"The Silversea crew is the lifeblood of our cruising experiences," the Randalls wrote on the site. "We are a huge extended family, with many of us sailing with Silversea for many years.

"Because unfortunately many of Silversea's loyal crew are out of work without a paycheck for several months and having to support their family, we want to help them until we all sail again."

The fundraiser is remarkable in terms of how quickly it raised so much money -- and that it's seemingly been entirely funded by members of Silversea's loyalty program.

For those who want to help cruise ship crew, or local businesses that depend on ship traffic, it is one of a few ways to do so.  

UnCruise Adventures organized a pandemic relief fund in December to provide micro-grants to qualifying crew members and small family businesses impacted by Covid-19 in Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico's Baja region, Peru, Belize and the Galapagos.  

"These countries do not have typical unemployment support or disaster relief programs as extensive as the United States," wrote UnCruise CEO and owner Dan Blanchard. "I know of highly educated crew members selling fruit along the highway, trying to survive. While dashed travel dreams can be disappointing to us, it is devastating to families who depend on our boats and guests to make ends meet."

Lindblad Expeditions did something similar for the Galapagos. It organized the Galapagos Island Relief Fund to provide financial assistance for island residents, 80% of whom depend on tourism and have been financially devastated by the pandemic. The donations will enable a local nonprofit to make micro-loans to the people of the islands and provide immediate financial relief, address the basic needs of vulnerable families, enable children to stay in school and help sustainable businesses grow and begin developing new income sources.

Those interested in helping out-of-work cruise ship entertainers can support a variety show being organized in Fort Lauderdale called Scandalous Nights, which showcases singers, jugglers, burlesque dancers, drag queens, comedians and more. Most have worked on cruise ships.

The organizer, Marguerite Scott, has been producing themed events on cruise ships for 15 years and has been in the industry for 30. Her goal is to bring safe, live entertainment back to the community, and offer the artists a place to perform after almost a year with no work.

"All are professional performers looking for an opportunity to perform for an appreciative audience, so they can all feel good about working again," she said. 

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