Cancellation of cruise leaves Cyprus-resident expat seniors in UK limbo

Published:  2 Apr at 6 PM
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A group of British expat retirees living in Cyprus are trapped in their former home country after their cruise ship was sent back to its British port.

Passengers from the ship told Cypriot media reporters the dream Caribbean cruise had started from the UK but was caught up in the chaos due to the pandemic and was instructed to immediately head back to its British home port. Once the Cyprus-based passengers had arrived, they were told they would be repatriated the following day, but they later learned there were no flights available. On enquiry, the cruise line representatives told them to get in touch with the Cypriot High Commission.

The stranded passengers , all of whom are elderly and live permanently in Cyprus, now believe they were simply dumped in London and expected to find their own way back home without any assistance. One passenger reported the island’s Ministry of Transport had given permission for the group to return, but was overruled by Cyprus’s Minister of Health. She added the group were all over the age of 70 and considered to be most at risk of dying should they contract the virus.

According to the same passenger, the majority of those on the cruise were long-stay expats who’d no-one in the UK to help them, leaving them forced to book into an expensive hotel or sleep on the streets. The cruise company has said it will only refund 50 per cent of passengers’ costs, with the passenger believing many of those stranded are now running short of money.

According to the Cyprus High Commission’s London office, the British expats must wait their turn, as repatriating Cypriot students is now their priority and the Foreign Ministry is as yet making no provisions to repatriate foreign permanent residents.
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