Jamaica to assist in getting stranded cruise ship passengers home
A Marella Discovery cruise ship docked in St Vincent. (Photo: iStock)
Jamaican authorities will on Tuesday assist the Europe-based operators of the Marella Discovery cruise ship with getting approximately 1,600 passengers on board to their various homes.
Multiple cruise ships have been denied entry to ports around the world because of fear over the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the assistance is being provided on humanitarian grounds and the fact that the ship home ports in Jamaica.
“Home porting means the passengers fly in and then they are picked up by the vessel here in Jamaica and then they (later) disembark in Jamaica (at the end of the cruise),” Tufton said.
He was speaking on Monday during the regular press conference at Jamaica House to update the country on the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak which is now impacting Jamaica.
Tufton noted that the permission requested to berth in Jamaica would be routine under normal circumstances except that the cruise shipping sector is on virtual lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.
The minister said the Jamaican authorities have worked out an arrangement with the Minister of Transport and others, which will see the passengers disembarking in Jamaica Tuesday without being allowed to walk around freely. Rather, they will leave the vessel and will proceed directly to aircraft that will be waiting on them to fly them home.
“I just want to indicate that these persons are not going to be touring within the country but we felt it was important to accommodate, on humanitarian grounds and others, the transfer of those individuals,” Tufton stated.
The cruise ship created history on January 20, when it was the first to dock at the newly opened Port Royal cruise port constructed by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ).
There are now 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island. In response, schools have been closed for two weeks and, beginning Wednesday, non-essential workers in the public and private sector will work from home for an initial seven days.
Bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues will be shuttered and market activities will be restricted to 6am to 2pm daily. Persons are also being asked to maintain some distance between each other to limit the spread of the virus.
Also, public gatherings will be restricted to 20 people and this will be enforced by the police.