“Happy, hopeful, excited, ready to get this done with,” was how one of the 305 Royal Caribbean cruise workers described the mood on-board the Enchantment of the Seas now docked alongside the Cruise Ship Complex. The vessel is expected to remain there for the next two weeks at least, as the workers will be quarantined on board.
On Wednesday at the Ministry of Health press conference, Minister of National Security Stuart Young said they are expecting close to 900 nationals back home in the next 14 days.
The returning national on-board the Enchantment of the Seas admitted to “a bit of anxiety about the swab test” but said other than that the mood on-board is light, since “people are just ready to be home.”
Guardian Media saw people dancing on the balconies outside of their cabins, and at least two people were seen waving T&T flags as the ship pulled closer to shore. One man said he had been up since 3 am just to look out his window to see Trinidad in his view.
Additional cruise ship passengers will be returning to Trinidad, on Monday. Initial figures were that 19 crew from Norwegian Cruise Lines, plus an additional national are due to arrive. On Tuesday seven crew members from Disney Cruises will arrive.
T&T students studying at University of the West Indies campuses in Jamaica and Barbados will be coming home this weekend. The airline says it received a list of all eligible students from UWI and has made contact with them to make arrangements for their return. On Saturday students from the Mona campus will be accommodated on a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight from Norman Manley International in Jamaica. Students at the Cave Hill campus will be placed on a CAL flight on Monday.
CAL is also operating repatriation flights for eligible Jamaican and Barbadian nationals who were granted the necessary permissions to return home. It said persons from those countries desirous of being accommodated on-board are asked to call CAL at 625-7200 ext 5, between the 7 am and 7 pm if they have not done so already.
Repatriation flights for Barbadian nationals are being operated today and Monday. The flight for Jamaican nationals is BW3414 and it has an estimated departure time of 7 am today. The airline will also operate flights for Jamaican nationals who wish to depart from Antigua, and Nassau, the Bahamas, tomorrow.
Passengers are expected to arrive at their respective airports four hours before scheduled departure to allow sufficient time for check-in and security processes. Passengers will be required to wear face masks throughout their entire journey from check-in to on-board the aircraft. There will be no meal service offered on any of these flights, and therefore passengers are encouraged to walk with light snacks and personal hygiene items such as wipes and hand sanitisers.
Minister Young said Government plans to “get everybody home.” But he also says the speed at which they can do that is limited by local capacity within the parallel healthcare system.