(St. Lucia News Online) — An unknown number of Saint Lucians are reportedly stuck on cruise ships after countries worldwide closed their ports due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
A Saint Lucian with “friends and relatives working on some of those ships” told St. Lucia News Online on Monday that it is believed that “hundreds” of Saint Lucians are among the thousands of Caribbean nationals trapped on these ships.
“Many of those vessels have corona and crew members are in isolation in the rooms. Many of them have said that they feel like they are in prison. Others claim while the company tried making plans to send them home, Saint Lucia closed its borders,” the source said.
“There are countries presently making arrangements to have their citizens returned home and immediately quarantined before going to their families. They are crying out for help from our government or officials in charge in Saint Lucia,” the source added.
The St. Lucia government, particularly the tourism minister, is being called upon to address the issue, the source said.
But it is likely that Saint Lucians and other stranded Caribbean nationals may not be coming home anytime soon after CNN reported that the US government “are now restricting cruise ship passengers and crew arriving in the US from boarding domestic commercial flights”.
These new restrictions, which were being finalized earlier Sunday, according to CNN, will “limit cruise passengers and crew to flying on charter aircraft or using private transportation”.
“This was implemented yesterday so the only way out now is to get exempted so they (Saint Lucians) really need the government’s assistance,” the source said, adding that the affected Saint Lucians are hoping the government will at least charter a flight to bring them home.
Princess Cruises is one of the first ships that would be affected by the new restrictions, CNN reported.
The US’s Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented the restrictions which will apply even to people not showing symptoms and also would require 14-day quarantines for cruise passengers and crew, CNN reported. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL CNN REPORT
Meanwhile, a report in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper on Monday indicates that about 135 Jamaicans and many other Caribbean nationals are stranded on two cruise ships — Celebrity Cruises and Harmony of the Seas. CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY.
“I am able to talk with my co-workers from my balcony, but the only time we have person-to-person contact is when food is dropped off to us,” The Gleaner quoted one of the stranded Jamaicans as saying.