250 ship crew arrive today - Carnival Glory with homesick Jamaicans aboard to dock in Falmouth
Another cruise ship with hundreds of Jamaican crew members aboard is due to dock in Falmouth Monday afternoon.
Their return is part of the Government’s stated objective to bring home all nationals stranded at sea before the tentative date of May 31.
Thousands of Jamaican ship workers have been unable to return home since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a ban on inbound travellers here two months ago. Just under 1,400 nationals have returned under the controlled re-entry programme.
A Gleaner source who has been at sea since March 12 and who is among the estimated 250 nationals on board the Carnival Glory said that the vessel’s operators confirmed their destination after they sailed for Mexico and Belize last week.
“Finally, it seems we will be coming home after all. I am feeling a little relieved, but I won’t get my hopes up again until we are actually docked and disembarked,” said the crew member, who requested that her name not be published out of fear of sanction from her employers.
“Remember that last week, we sailed so close to home but could not dock. Others here admitted, also, that they were excited about heading home, where they have not seen family members for such a long time away,” she added.
Another Jamaican crew member, who also did not want to be named, said he has resigned himself to the mandatory 14-day quarantine, stating that he would rather “face isolation on home soil than on a ship sailing across the seas” for one more night.
Carnival Glory, which was located approximately 233 nautical miles southeast of Kingston at the time of writing, is scheduled to dock in the capital for refuelling before travelling on to Falmouth, where Adventure of the Seas is currently docked with Jamaicans.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang confirmed the scheduled docking while giving assurance of the Government’s intention to repatriate all Jamaicans.
“Jamaica’s standing in terms of its ability to deal with this virus is one of the best in the globe, and we have taken steps to bring all our nationals home in a very short period of time,” said Chang.
“By the end of the month, we should have them all back home. They all want to come, and no one can blame them because Jamaica is safer than elsewhere because we did things right,” he added.
He said that the Government has been careful in how it utilises the correct logistics to bring in the thousands of ship workers, which has been left to officials at the Ministry of Health and the Port Authority.
In addition, while the cruise ship ports have been active with the return of Jamaicans, so, too, will an airport, with yet another batch of deportees set to land in Jamaica later this week.
Close to 40 deportees are scheduled to be transported from the United States to Kingston, where they will be quarantined.
The US, in April, deported 46 Jamaicans, the first such expulsion since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus here and after the Government closed the country’s borders to incoming passenger traffic on March 24.
Jamaica has recorded 552 COVID-19 cases, with 38 per cent, or 211 infected persons, recovering. Nine persons have died.