Cruise workers’ re-entry now routine, says Chang

CARNIVAL Cruise Line’s Carnival Glory is expected to berth at the historic Falmouth Cruise Port sometime today, with about 250 Jamaican employees.

The arrival of the vessel marks the start of a new Government policy effort to bring home about 2,000 Jamaicans working with various cruise lines by the end of June.

Following the arrival of 1,044 Jamaicans last Thursday aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Adventure of the Seas, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang said that, having resolved whatever glitches held up the transition of an earlier re-entry, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) will now co-ordinate the logistics of the entry of the vessels while the Ministry of Health and Wellness will oversee the public health programme.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda will also be handling the logistics of getting the returnees from the pier to local hotels where they will be quarantined and tested.

“It is now a routine matter. The ships are coming in, the public health processes are being followed, and the Port Authority is co-ordinating the activities. So, we don’t have to become involved,” Chang told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The arrival of the Carnival Glory will mean an additional 250 workers being accepted at the port. But three more vessels are expected by the end of the month, including a Norwegian Cruise Line ship with 160 crew members and an unknown number from the Disney Cruise Line.

Dr Chang said there are also cruise workers who have arranged other means of transportation, including airlines, who are expected to arrive home by the end of this month.

“These are big ships carrying large numbers of passengers, which is why we felt the need for the PAJ to handle those logistics, so that we can focus on the passengers – and I am sure that we will complete the process by month end or thereabouts,” Dr Chang said.

He added that the quarantine period will include three to four days at nearby hotels, which have been assisting the accommodation process, after which the returnees will either be placed in home quarantine for two weeks, or in the care of the health and wellness ministry if they test positive.

Meanwhile, Carnival and Royal Caribbean have already stated their policy for getting the workers home every 48-72 hours and their focus on resuming normality, which seems unlikely before the winter season.

Carnival had been planning to resume cruises by June 12. However, this has now been extended to August. Royal Caribbean seems set on a return to business by August 1, and normality months later.

Carnival suffered some 1,500 confirmed infections and a “no sail” order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the novel coronavirus spread globally.

The company says it is using its current free time to engage experts, government officials, and stakeholders on additional protocols and procedures to protect the health and safety of its guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean says it is not guaranteeing a resumption on August 1, and is expecting fewer passengers per vessel to allow for social distancing.

The company’s chairman, Richard Fain, said the cruise line, which is reported to be losing approximately US$250 million to US$275 million per month, wants to ensure the safety of its guests and crew.

“We won’t come back until we have done everything we can to work to protect the safety of our guests and our crew,” he said, pointing out that the company is working with health experts in that regard.

In the meantime, Royal Caribbean has repatriated 17,000 employees but it still has another 26,000 more who need to go home. The company said it is currently using nine of its vessels to repatriate 10,000 more employees over the coming months.

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