As part of the joint volunteer program announced in 2017 between Mercy Ships and Costa Group, the first crewmember from Africa Mercy recently embarked on Costa neoRomantica.

Rodrigo Souza Fraga, a 38-year-old from Spain, joined Costa neoRomantica as a 3rd officer to gain sea service and experience. Reporting to the ship’s officer on watch, Souza serves as a member of the bridge staff, fulfilling navigation and watch-keeping duties.

Souza is a 2nd officer on Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, which provides free surgical and dental care to patients with urgent medical needs. The ship has a crew of over 400 volunteers from more than 40 nations, and delivers surgical services for 10 months at a time at African ports, sailing to and from new destinations each year. With that much time in port, the maritime crew needs time on other ships to maintain their sailing time to satisfy licensing and training requirements.

“My time onboard the Costa neoRomantica is very challenging yet very fulfilling,” Souza said. “There are many positive aspects of the daily work that I’m learning and can be beneficial for Mercy Ships. But what catches my attention the most is how well people are trained. At the end of this four-month commitment, I will have the opportunity to upgrade my officer’s license.  Being able to spend a substantial amount of time at sea is helping me to sharpen up my sailing skills.”

The volunteer program is one of only several aspects of the Costa Group and Mercy Ships partnership. Last year, Costa Group donated 100,000 euros to Mercy Ships. In addition, Costa Group has pledged to continue building awareness about Mercy Ships’ mission and activities with Costa Group guests.

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