Some 40 of 49 Trinidadian nationals working aboard Disney Cruise Lines are begging Minister of National Security Stuart Young to consider their request to return home.
Guardian Media was told yesterday that the group has been working aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Dream for close to five months and are nearing the end of their contract with no clear plan on what will happen next due to the COVID-19 lockdown of borders.
The workers are currently aboard the Disney Fantasy, which is being used by the cruise line company to make a journey through various Caribbean and Latin American countries to return crew members to their homelands.
Guardian Media understands Disney’s executive director of Marine Operations Russel Daya has written to Young seeking clearance to bring the nationals back to T&T. However, they have not received a response yet.
A 40-year-old Trinidadian mother who has been working on the Disney Cruise Line for 18 years told Guardian Media her four-month contract, like those of many others, comes to an end on May 29. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said, “The captain thought since we are on our way to Grenada to drop off crew members, Trinidad would have been able to accept us and then we will come home.”
She said all passengers disembarked from the ship on March 14, and none of the three ships which were in operation then had any cases of COVID-19. All crew members, the woman stated, are being tested frequently for the virus, while the company has initiated several safety protocols including physical distancing.
Noting the public backlash which occurred when a group of Trini nationals who had gone on a cruise made their appeal to come home, she said, “I understand the height of the Government keeping the country safe at this point in time. However, we are safe and COVID-19 free and the company is making 99 per cent of the effort.”
Guardian Media was told governments from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominican Republic and St Lucia gave the green light to have their citizens who were working with the company repatriated but the T&T and Jamaica government were yet to give such approvals.
The Fantasy is expected to dock in St Vincent on May 20 and will then head to St Lucia for another drop-off.
The Trinidadian crew member said if the T&T Government refuses to give clearance for their return then, they will have no choice but to stay on the ship and return to Orlando where she and the others will have to fend for themselves. However, she said the group is clinging on to the hope that they will be reunited with their families in Trinidad.
“My nine-year-old daughter is contacting me every day asking me when I am coming home,” she lamented.
Guardian Media contacted Young via WhatsApp for comment on the issue yesterday but although he read the messages he had not responded to any of our questions up to last evening.