It felt like prison - Cruise ship worker happy to be home

May 07, 2020
One of the Jamaicans who was stranded in the United Kingdom for weeks makes her way through the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday.
One of the Jamaicans who was stranded in the United Kingdom for weeks makes her way through the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday.

"It felt like prison." Those are the exact words of Jermaine who returned to the island yesterday after he was stranded on a cruise ship for 56 days in South Hampton, United Kingdom.

"Bwoy we are out of prison ... it was rough mentally. They treated us good while we were on the seas but it took a toll on me because we were just allowed to go and eat and then back in our cabin. It was like being locked in a little box because the cabin is very small. We had a chance to communicate with each other but it is not the same as having full freedom to travel around," he said.

115 Jamaicans

Jermaine, who hails from Portland, is among the 115 Jamaicans who were stranded in the UK who arrived at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport yesterday evening.

The Jamaicans arrived aboard a TUI charter flight. Among the Jamaicans 75 are ship workers, including 43 of the Marella Discovery 2.

Fatigued by circuitous holding voyages, the Jamaican have been putting pressure on the Government to allow them to repatriate after the country shut its borders to incoming passenger traffic on March 24 as part of the coronavirus containment measures.

Tristan, who was also on a cruise ship for three months, said that although he would be placed in quarantine for 14 days, he is elated to return to the land of his birth.

Like Jermaine, he stated that he was treated properly but said he had to 'tun his hand to make fashion' in order to take care of his personal hygiene.

"There were times that I had to use fab soap to take a shower or use baking soda or salt to brush my teeth. I didn't mind though because I was going to do whatever it took to take care of my personal hygiene. It was challenging mentally and emotionally but we made it through," he said.

It has been a tiring 16 hours for the Jamaicans, who left their ship from 4:30 a.m. (UK time) to go to the airport for their flight to Jamaica. Up to 9 p.m. last night, some persons were still being processed by immigration staff.

The Jamaicans will now be quarantined for 14 days at a north coast hotel before they are allowed to go home. They were all transported by JUTC buses that were parked outside of the arrival section of the airport.

A cohort of 215 stranded Jamaicans in the US are to be repatriated this week.

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