SAYING ALL: National Security Minister Stuart Young at Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Select Committee on National Security at the Red House.

—Photo courtesy The Office of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago

National Security Minister Stuart young is assuring that 70 Trinidad and Tobago cruisers aboard a cruise ship stranded off Guadeloupe will be brought back home.

Young issued a statement yesterday indicating that the 70 nationals on board the Costa Favolosa, moored in Guadeloupe waters, will return home.

He did not provide details on how exactly this will be done, but the minister stated that the Government is in communication with the French authorities to get accurate information on the status of T&T nationals on the ship, and how these authorities intend to treat with this situation.

“The latest information that we have is that arrangements are being made to repatriate our nationals,” he stated.

Young added that the government agencies, in particular the Ministries of Health and National Security, are prepared to receive the nationals, and have been since March 16, 2020, when they were expected to have arrived back in the country.

“The public is assured that Government is working assiduously to assist these nationals to return safely to Trinidad and Tobago,” stated Young.

Vulnerable category

Akim James told the Express that his grandmother, 83, left on March 5 to go on the seven-day Caribbean cruise when cases of COVID-19 were reported on the ship.

He said they were supposed to leave the cruise last Saturday but the government of Martinique did not allow them to disembark.

The ship sailed to Guadeloupe where most of the passengers were allowed to leave the ship.

“We found out the cruise ship took it upon themselves to try and organise a chartered flight from Guadeloupe to Trinidad yesterday for all the Trinidadian passengers. What we are told is that the authorities in Trinidad told them the flight crew would have to be quarantined,” he said, adding that the flight crew refused and therefore that attempt was thwarted.

He lamented that most of these passengers are in the vulnerable category.

James said his relative flew to Martinique and boarded the ship there and were also supposed to disembark there and then return home.

Diabetic and hypertensive

Carlina Holder also shared the same information as she expressed worry about her grandmother who is in her 60s.

“Everybody there over the age of 60 in a French-speaking island, it is difficult for them. They cannot buy a plan and figure out how to get to the airport,” she said.

She said they were told that the Tobagonians were informed that they had to disembark the ship yesterday by noon.

Antoinette Henry-Taylor said her parents, Cecil Henry, 71, and June Henry, 65, are passengers.

“My mom is asthmatic, diabetic and hypertensive, so I’m very concerned,” she said.

She said she was only able to speak to her parents a day after they left for the cruise.

“They were excited to go because a year now they planning for it. This is the first time my mom went because my dad always goes. My mom retired and we encourage her we told her ‘mummy, you work hard, you and your husband go’,” she said.

“I have no appetite to eat, I can’t function, I just want to know what’s going on. I want my parents safely home,” she added.

Henry-Taylor pleaded that any crew that returns the passengers be allowed to leave after.

“If they doing us a favour and bringing them back let them full and go back to their country and then they take it from there. I’m confused, we don’t know who to believe,” she said.

Caren Quash told the Express her relatives—mother Lynette, 75, and aunt Edme, 72, are passengers also wanting to return home.

She said they told her they were “comfortable” but she doesn’t know if they were saying that to keep them calm.

“I know the ship has to go back so something has to work out between today and tomorrow. What exactly it is, I can’t say. Nobody is saying anything to us but it seems they are trying to work something out,” she said.

The cruise was organised by Works Credit Union which plans events and trips for its members.

Medicines running out

President of the Workers Credit Union Augustus Thomas said he has been in touch with members and there are three directors on the ship as well.

Thomas, who is an attorney and temporary Government senator, said he has been in touch with the Prime Minister and Young.

He said he feels confident they making headway with “negotiations” involved with the authorities.

He said he was told the passengers would be off the ship by tomorrow.

“Probably by midnight tonight we would have some concrete arrangements as to when they will be back home,” he said.

He said some of the passengers have indicated their medicines are running out and that hastened his urge to get them out.