Over 200 Guyanese nationals who work on various cruise ships that are now anchored in Florida are making a desperate plea to be allowed to come home.
Guyana has closed off its international airports as part of the response to the coronavirus. Only specially authorized flights are being allowed.
With coronavirus ravaging through parts of the United States, cruise lines have suspended operations leaving those staff members stranded aboard and the cruise companies wanting to get them off.
“We have no place to go. We want to come home, but the airports are closed and although the cruise companies are willing to pay for us to come home, no flights can get into Guyana and it is stressing us out, it is as if Guyana has turned its back on us”, one cruise worker who reached out to News Source explained.
The young man, who asked not to be identified, explained that the ships are anchored out at sea and the foreign workers are not being allowed to even leave their accommodation onboard the vessel.
Some of them have been told that they will only be allowed to leave when the airports in their home country re-open. The cruise ships are willing to pay for the cruise workers to get home.
“We can’t leave these small rooms. We are being quarantined for our safety and I understand that, but this is like jail. We are left in the rooms and we have food delivered to us at various times. We cannot venture out of our rooms and it has been days turning into weeks for many of us and we need to head home to Guyana. I’ll take the quarantine there but I can’t deal with this anymore”, he recounted.
Another cruise worker who reached out to News Source said attempts have been made to make contact with the Guyana Embassy in Washington but those efforts have all failed. He said while he has relatives in New York, he prefers to head home to Guyana since it seems much safer from the coronavirus that New York right now.
“Listen, we just want to come home. If we have to sign a form for two weeks or whatever of quarantine, we will do that. Because this is worse and it is frightening. We are not asking the Government to pay for us to come home, we just want the airport to be opened up to allow us in and we will follow the rules and go into quarantine if that’s what has to happen.”
Hundreds of Guyanese youths work on cruise lines across the world. Their jobs would usually be on a rotation basis with a specific number of months on the cruise then a number of months back home.
While many countries have allowed the passengers to disembark the cruise ships, the foreign crew members have found themselves stranded on-board with little or no assurances of when exactly they will be allowed to leave.
Some of them explained that they only have visas that would only allow their work on the cruise ships.
The Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently indicated that it has a list of more than 70 Guyanese who have contacted the Ministry with requests for the Airports to be temporarily opened to accommodate their arrivals.
Since the shut down of the airports, the American, British and Canadian governments have arranged special flights to get their citizens home.
Guyana allowed just one special flight in from Barbados to allow Guyanese who were stranded there home. Upon arrival, many of the persons voiced concerns about the quarantine facility where they were placed and one young man even filed a Court action, which eventually failed.
But for those on the cruise ships, they should not be made to pay for the mistakes of others.
“I’ll choose any part of Madewini over this lil cabin right now”, one of the cruise workers told News Source.