Another group of TT nationals stranded outside the country has appealed for help in coming home. A crew member on Mariner of the Sea, a ship owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, has reached out to Newsday to draw attention to their problem. “I am one of hundreds of Trinidadian crew members that are stranded at sea,” said a woman who asked not to be identified by name.
“We are depending on our government to assist us,” she appealed, speaking for herself and her 12 compatriots among the ship’s crew. She works in one of the onboard restaurants for Royal Caribbean Cruises, a major 28-fleet cruise company, which she says has been more than generous to her and the other workers.
She began her latest contract in January, when she boarded, and was expected to return home when it ends in August. Her typical voyage involves a three- to four-day cruise from Nassau to the CocoCay, a private island in the Bahamas. But the ship is currently circling the waters of the Bahamas and is being prevented from docking, although she said no crew members has shown signs or symptoms of covid19.
In late March the Miami Herald reported that another Royal Caribbean Cruises ship, the Osis of the Seas, had 14 crew members aboard with symptoms of the illness. That ship is anchored in the Bahamas. The patients were being isolated in their cabins.
On April 4 the Bahamas Maritime Authority was reported as saying the country’s health care system could not cope with “a massive influx of new covid19 patients from outside our country.”
The crew member said the guests left the ship on March 17. Then the first batch of crew began to leave the vessel around March 26 and 27. They comprised Americans and Nicaraguans, whose countries’ borders were still open at that time.
Since then, she said, “We’ve been given a single guest room and breakfast, lunch and dinner, with room service, at no cost to us. We are getting medical and laundry services and most importantly free wifi to keep in touch with our families at home. “My company has been fantastic through it all. We really couldn’t ask for more.”
She said the company has shown empathy and has been trying continuously to get the crew home. She said it has offered to charter a flight, but the onus is on the TT authorities to open the border. But, she stressed, there is little Royal Caribbean Cruises can do to rid those on board of their anxiety, away from their families and at sea indefinitely.
She says the company will supply all protective equipment staff need to disembark and get home safety. However, the next “sign-off” to go home, she was told, is either on April 27 or after April 30. “There’s no sign-off on the 16th (Thursday). We just going to dock in Miami for goods.
She also questioned, when they return, if they have to be quarantined at one of the designated facilities or at home, having already been quarantined. “It will be easier to dock into the port,” she said. “And by all means, we will follow any instructions to get retested for everyone’s assurance. She asked for the TT citizens on the ship to be allowed to self-quarantine at home if they continued ot test negative for the virus. Newsday was unable to reach Minister of National Security Stuart Young for comment on Wednesday.