Cheerful about reuniting face-to-face with relatives for the first time since being stranded at sea for over two months, a cruise ship musician likened the feeling to that of preparing to go to popular Carnival fete.
"Everyone was bubbly and excited to leave. It was like an army fete or soca monarch. We are ready for the road," Sterling Howell, leader of the music band Xcite, told Sunday Newsday.
Howell together with of five other musicians who were allowed to go home on Saturday after they completed their mandatory 14-day quarantine at the University of the West Indies campus in Debe.
The workers were stranded aboard the Caribbean Princess since March after the Government closed the country’s border as a part of measures to suppress the spread covid19. They returned on May 23 after the National Security Minister Stuart Young approved an exemption allowing them to return home.
"It is about family time now. I do not know what emotions I will have when I reach my home. I have to give the phone a rest because I know everyone would want to call," Howell, who lives in Laventille, said.
Howell said he also longed to pay with his pompek, Oreo.
"I will take off my mask and hopefully she will recognise me," he joked.
He thanked the staff at the Debe facility for their service.
Howell said, "The treatment was nice. Nurses were professional. I just wanted to come home. So even if they put me in a cardboard box on Frederick Street, I would have been cool with that."
The four other members of his band who went home were vocalist Esther Dyer, keyboard player Rodney Harris, bass player Sheldon George and drummer Rondell Andy Edwards. The sixth person was Vivian Williams who worked as a solo pannist on the ship.
Dyer, who lives in Diego Martin, said they were happy to finally go home. One of her first order of business is to check in with her nieces and nephew. While onboard the ship, members were "technically" quarantined in their respective cabins as all health and safety guidelines had been enforced.
Dyer said "If a person had any symptom of the flu or cough, they were isolated immediately even if it was caused by an allergy. We were practising social distancing, sanitising and everything."
She admitted that at times while on board, she and other members experienced bouts of sadness.
"The stress of not knowing what was going to happen took a toll. I thought I was not stressed out, I thought I was fine. I recognised it when I reach Trinidad. I felt a weight off my shoulders. We just needed to come home, it was time."
Spending months touring had become a norm for the crew but because of the pandemic, work stopped, and everything changed.
"Normally we spent four to six months working at a time then head back home for a month. The difference is when we are on the ship, we are working. When we stopped, all kinds of things were going through our minds," Dyer said emphasising she was elated to go home.