THE DEATH of a cruise employee onboard a popular Royal Caribbean cruise ship where Trini nationals are also employed, has left the man's fellow crew members, including the Trinidadians, in deep stress. This is the fourth death of cruise ship workers within the past two weeks.
Cruiselawnews.com, a website for maritime news run by maritime lawyers, reported that a Chinese national, with the first name "Wenji," was an assistant waiter on the vessel Mariner on the Seas which is anchored off the Bahamas. Colleagues found the 24-year-old dead in his cabin and he appeared to have taken his life.
Wenji's death was the first on the Mariner of the Seas. He worked in the same department as a Trinidadian woman who spoke with Newsday. "They say when it hits home then u truly feel it..." she posted on her Facebook page. "Wenji was a very quiet person," she wrote, adding that he kept to himself and always seemed to be in a mood.
"Then suddenly he would be nice lol. I be like aye, are you ok today or feeling sick? lol Then he would smile. Depression is a killer! My heart is shattered. Father Lord I beg you to give us the strength and patience to make it through."
Newsday interviewed the same local cruise worker recently and she asked not to be named. Having been at sea since January, she implored government to open the borders to cruise ship workers who, like her, have been isolated and at sea for months, and far longer than the stipulated 14-day quarantine period.
"Tell me, why is it okay to open borders for the Trinis who were in Barbados, and now the 40 in Suriname?" she asked. Clearly desperate to return home and be reunited with loved ones, she continued, "Nobody cares about seafarers, and we are the safest and healthiest people right now. Stop being heartless."
Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, she said, "I don't know if it makes sense any more, because we (are) just being ignored."
When pressed, she continued, "The ship has gone silent. We have not heard any announcement or word yet. It's dead. The energy is gone and the place is real sad." She explained how Wenji was found.
"Not everyone is strong enough to handle this. (National Security Minister Stuart) Young say, 'Stay in shelter. Be safe.' Well not any more. It's like we're stuck and there is no hope to come home. "Let us all come home," she begged. "You never know what people going through and thinking. Sometimes instead of judging, simply ask, 'Hey, are you okay?'
"Nobody at sea is happy and Lord knows we all want to go home." Wenji's death happened around the same time another death was recorded on the ship Regal Princess, of the Princess Cruises line, off Rotterham, Netherlands. That crew member was a Ukranian national and worked as a waiter.
Last week, an assistant shore excursion manager died on the Carnival Breeze, en route to the US from the Bahamas, and just over a week earlier, a Polish electrician on the Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas reportedly went overboard south of Greece.
With an apparently early start to the Atlantic hurricane season, the crew member on the Mariner on the Seas said she and her colleagues are getting more and more anxious. The Bahamas is one of the most at-risk countries for hurricanes. "That in itself is another story." The prime minister announced on Saturday that restrictions will be lifted in phases, but said borders, at this point, will remain closed.