Cruiseship crew locked down on vessels anchored off the UK coast received some festive cheer from Sailors' Society centre manager Simon Mobsby – dubbed 'Santa of the sea'.
With cruises cancelled due to coronavirus, huge cruise ships anchored off the UK coast have become a familiar sight since the pandemic hit in March. Several ships, with skeleton crews of around 150, regularly come into Southampton port for supplies and maintenance, but the crews are restricted to a small area of the port because of coronavirus.
The international maritime charity has stepped in to support the crews, inviting them to get their online shopping and post delivered to its Southampton seafarer centre and bringing it to the ships when they come into port.
Mr Mobsby delivered more than 200 parcels to grateful seafarers and made trips to the supermarket for them. He was expecting the demand to be greater as Christmas approached.
'They have no access to the outside world at all, so I do it on their behalf,' he said. '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 also wrapped its own Christmas gifts for the crews, most of whom have been on the ships since before coronavirus hit in March. Simon has even delivered gifts from one cruise ship to the other.
Sailors' Society has also received donations of gifts for seafarers from its supporters, as well as a grant from the International Transport Workers' Federation and the International Christian Maritime Association to provide small Christmas parcels in a selection of ports.