In times of great crisis, the most unlikely heroes appear. Here’s who you nominated as your champions.

When we asked our readers who the real heroes of the COVID-19 cruise crisis were, the almost unanimous response was: The crew.

While most admitted they couldn’t remember the names of remarkable individual crew members, some could.

The biggest standout, with the most nominations, was Captain Carl Smith who, on the cusp of the pandemic, re-routed Azamara Pursuit out of South America and back to Miami after being locked out of every port in the continent.

His actions and constant communications helped guests feel safe and at ease for the duration of their cruise, which unexpectedly included 18 sea days.

Captain Smith was praised for being readily available to speak to, implementing vigilant sanitisation measures and leading his crew to do the same.

Guests told Cruise Passenger they felt safer onboard Azamara Pursuit than they did when they returned to land, while others praised the captain for his efforts to help guests get home in the midst of airport closures and flight groundings.

“He stayed on the Azamara Pursuit for over six months to ensure that guests and crew were safe and cared for,” said one. “When Pursuit was denied docking at port after port during Initial months of the pandemic, he was visible, communicative and comforting to all onboard. Such a great leader!”

Captain Smith said he was honoured to have been nominated as the most outstanding crew member of the year by Cruise Passenger readers.

“There were many difficult decisions to be made, and some very long days during the March cruise, and I honestly could not have done it without the fantastic support not only of our crew and office staff but also our guests,” he said.

“I gave every single one of them a hug on their way down the gangway as they were leaving one of the last healthy environments on the planet, the last some of them would be receiving for quite some time.”

Perhaps more surprising – though no less richly deserved – was the recognition given to Royal Caribbean’s Washy Washy Crew on Ovation of the Seas.
The Washy Washy Crew, who sang their patented – and absolutely fabulous – song about handwashing at onboard dining venues, were commended not just for encouraging passengers to wash their hands but for remaining positive even when some passengers were overtly unkind and refused. Those passengers were gently reminded: “No washy washy, no yummy yummy.”

The Washy Washy Crew made the essential act of washing hands before entering a communal area a little lighter and a lot more fun – something we could
all do with a bit more of right now.