A ROYAL Caribbean International vessel, Vision of the Seas, holding 345 TT nationals on board, docked in St Lucia on Monday morning. Seventy-two St Lucians disembarked and entered five buses, where they were taken home to quarantine.
"...It was so refreshing to see how they (St Lucians) left the ship. They had their temperatures taken, they boarded the buses and they're going into quarantine. It's that simple. It was smooth sailing," said a TT citizen, who was previously interviewed on the condition that she not be identified.
Apart from the 345 TT nationals on Vision of the Seas, there are about 20 others on three other Royal Caribbean vessels, including Serenade and Majesty of the Seas.
They will all board Vision of the Seas, sail to Port of Spain and dock, once cleared by the Ministry of National Security.
Apart from the captain and a few others, the TT nationals will be the last to return home. It remains unclear when the Ministry of National Security will begin allowing the cruise workers in groups and in what order.
The TT national told Newsday what she witnessed in St Lucia was "a relief" compared to what she saw back home.
"We decided to go and take a look to see how it's being done by their government. And it was such an amazing thing to see. The St Lucians were received with love," she said.
Newsday previously interviewed the same crew worker on April 15.
At the time, she was aboard another Royal Caribbean vessel, Mariner of the Sea, and appealed to the government since then to open the border to people who, like her, have been aboard their vessels working for several months and are willing to undergo quarantine, if just to get back home.
After that, a 24-year-old Chinese man in her department she recently befriended, was found dead in his cabin with gashes to the arms. There has been at least five other incidents of stranded crew taking their lives on some cruise vessels in the region, as have been reported by maritime news website – cruiselawnews.com.
She said the incident was too much for her and her colleagues to bear.
Although the Minister of National Security has not publicly identified when TT nationals aboard the Royal Caribbean vessel will be allowed home, she said she is hoping that they be allowed to quarantine on-board.
In fact, she would prefer to quarantine at home, but knows it is unlikely given that the 58 nationals who returned from Disney Fantasy (six) and Caribbean Princess (52) vessels, from Saturday to Monday, were taken, along with police escort, from the Cruise Ship Complex, Port of Spain to the University of the West Indies' Debe campus.
"The Jamaican and St Vincent crew did their quarantine on board," she said.
Jamaican nationals have been tested and once shown negative, allowed to return home.
The country's Office of the Prime Minister announced on Friday it had, "[Granted] approval for the arrival of over 1,000 Jamaican ship workers aboard the Adventure of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise line."
"Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement yesterday (May 18) at a digital press conference to update the nation on the latest decision of Cabinet on COVID-19."
" ... The Prime Minister underscored that ship workers who test positive will be placed in state quarantine for 14 days and those who test negative will be allowed to home quarantine for the same period."
Holness said the over 1,000 ship workers will be allowed off the ship in groups of 200, directed by the health authorities.
The unnamed TT citizen aboard Vision of the Seas also took issue with the manner in which the recent returnees were "handled" by the police and national security.
"Trinidad – there was no police escort in St Lucia," she said, noting that in contrast, she found the reception of the six TT nationals, who returned from the Caribbean Princess on Saturday, to be "chilling."
After seeing footage, she said it looked like the authorities were taking prisoners away.
The six nationals from Caribbean Princess, along with 52 more, who returned to Port of Spain on Disney Cruise Line life boats on Monday morning, were taken by police escort to the facility in South, where they were examined and will undergo yet another two-week quarantine.
"How many they going to bring for us when it's 300-plus? It's not called for," she said.
The vessel left St Lucia on Monday and is scheduled to stop in St Vincent on Friday.