The Enchantment of the Seas

DOCKED: The Enchantment of the Seas docked at the Port of Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

There was chaos on board Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas yesterday as the quarantine period for nationals has once again been extended.

The Ministry of Health announced via a press release yesterday that the decision was made in light of the three recent Covid-19 positive cases from this group and, out of an abundance of caution, nationals on board will be allowed to disembark the ship on June 30 and will be moved into State quarantine on land.

As a result of this decision, nationals became infuriated.

Speaking with the Express via telephone yesterday, one said, “The environment has become so painful, so hostile, so frustrating. So many people are crying, depressed, it is like a horror story. We have no faith in our Government’s word anymore. We believe this has become a political game. We just want to get off the ship. There are crew members threatening to jump off the ship. This has now become a mental health issue.”

Another cruise ship worker via a video posted on social media said, “Nowhere in the CDC standards is a third test required… Mr Terrence Deyalsingh has been constantly moving the goalpost on Royal Caribbean… Sir I’m requesting that you come to the port and tell these 300-plus nationals that they cannot go home to their loved ones… We will not be treated as animals. It is an utmost disgrace.”

Another also told the Express, “I haven’t seen my family since November last year. I tested negative twice and I have been in isolation on the ship since early March, yet I’m being held hostage still. They want to protest on the ship. They want to burn down the ship. We’re all upset. I have been trying to contact my lawyer to take legal action against the Government. This is unfair. We are being kept in isolation as though we are guilty of a crime.”

“It’s frustrating and we are still in isolation so I don’t think anyone is happy. It’s a lot to deal with because being tested twice, being negative and unable to go home is frustrating,” said yet another.

Broken process

Today marks 17 days since the group began their State quarantine period on board the ship.

On June 5, however, nationals received an e-mail from the human resource manager, Enchantment of the Seas, Reynold Ryan, stating, “We have requested permission for Enchantment to arrive into Trinidad on June 12th. Once we arrive, we will come into port for the first round of PCR tests for all debarking crew. On that day, you will start a 14-day quarantine onboard, which will be observed by the Trinidad and Tobago medical team. Enchantment will spend the 14 days in Trinidad waters, with a combination of time in port and at sea. On day 12 of your quarantine, Enchantment will be in port again for a second PCR test. On June 26th at the end of the 14-day quarantine, all employees with negative PCR test results will be allowed to go home.”

However, nationals told the Express, this did not occur.

The Express reported that the first PCR test was administered on June 12.

Out of 308 returning nationals, six tested positive.

The patients were transferred to the Caura Hospital and cruise workers told the Express, the six have since received negative results when tested again at the hospital.

Five other nationals were sent for medical treatment but Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said it was not Covid-related.

Loss of trust

The second testing for the remaining nationals on board was delayed due to protest actions by Port Authority employees on June 23 and 24.

The ship returned on June 25 and the second round of testing was done.

The nationals were expecting to return to their families the following day.

However, this was once again delayed as three new persons tested positive for Covid-19.

This has now left over 290 patients who received two consecutive negative tests still in quarantine awaiting a third PCR test.

The nationals told the Express they are left playing the waiting game to see where they will be transferred to next.

Some are now fearful for their jobs, their mental health and their families.

One national also said, “We have complied with all that Government required of us, now they back stepping on their words. How could we trust a government like this? Our Government is hampering our future jobs with Royal Caribbean by their dolly house behaviour.”

One man lamented, “You must expect that to take a toll on someone’s mental health. I have been in isolation for 114 days at sea. It’s abuse of power, holding the citizens as hostage. That is crazy….My mom made my favourite food and cake because I was coming home today (Sunday).”

The nationals are now calling on president of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU), Michael Annisette, to help them return to their families.

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