TT cruise ship crews under pressure

File photo of a cruise liner belonging to Royal Caribbean Cruises.
File photo of a cruise liner belonging to Royal Caribbean Cruises.

THE death of a Polish crew member who fell overboard from a cruise ship has sparked an emotional outburst from a Trinidadian who has been on board a Princess Cruise line ship for over 50 days.

On April 30 a 26-year-old electrician went overboard from the Jewel of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship, off Greece.

Musician and lead male singer of the band Xcite Sterling Howell took to Facebook on Sunday to vent his frustration over the government’s failure to repatriate him and some 250 other nationals who are still out at sea.

The men and women have no idea when they will touch TT soil – or any land for that matter,  as borders remain closed in an attempt to flatten the covid19 curve.

Howell, who is on board the Caribbean Princess with five other band members and a pannist, said he is a patriot who loves his country. He said he proudly wears his national colours and T-shirts displaying the TT coat of arms.

“I represent TT everywhere in the world I go because I love my country, but right now I feeling like my country don’t love me at all,” he said live on Facebook.

“All I am hearing (from government) is that we have about 250 crew members out there (on cruise ships) but ‘We can’t do nothing for them right now.’”

He said the government could in fact do something for them, “But we are not that important, and that is the problem.

“There are lots of crew members outside on cruise ships who want to come back home. Companies are willing to try to get them back home ,but we have no communication from (our) government.”

He said while he understands the reason for the borders being closed, the he is hurt by the negative response on social media to the crew’s desire to come home.

“I am bothered by comments from people that we should jump off the ship if we want to get off. People saying to leave us here, it’s safer.”
However, he said other people did not understand the stress and pressure of being in lockdown on a cruise ship.

“Not everybody accustomed to being away from their families like this.

“Crew members are here because they are making a sacrifice to make a better living for their families.  We should not have to pay a dear price like this because we were willing to make a sacrifice.”

He pleaded with the government on behalf of those working on cruise ships.
“Bring us home. Communicate with us. Let us know something. Please.”

Howell said the message reaching him was that the death of the Jewel of the Seas electrician was not accidental.

“This is just heartbreaking for me to know that his body has not been found and his family could never get to say a proper goodbye.”

He said he would not like this to happen to another crew member.

Female lead singer of Xcite Esther Dyer told the Newsday on Sunday evening that the Caribbean Princess was somewhere between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

She said the vessel was heading to the Dominican Republic, where DR citizens would disembark and then continue to St Eustatius to refuel.

Dyer said the treatment on board Caribbean Princess was excellent. She said none of the 1,000-plus crew members have shown any symptoms of the virus, but nationals were willing to be quarantined once they are given clearance to come home.

She said the crew consists of people from the Caribbean and Latin America, and the other countries were repatriating their citizens.


"TT cruise ship crews under pressure"

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