Thursday, August 13, 2020

    Gov’t Finalizing Negotiations To Repatriate Over 1000 J’cans On Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

    Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is finalizing negotiations to repatriate over 1-thousand Jamaicans who are aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, RCCL, as quickly as possible.

    In a statement last evening, Prime Minister Holness said it was always the intention of the Government to accept the ship.

    But he says this can only be done when the Government has mobilized the resources to do so.

    Prime Minister Holness says Jamaica has seen the negative outcome and discomfort caused to the last cohort of repatriated Jamaicans when a well-intentioned decision was made without enough resources in place to properly execute.

    The Prime Minister says the Government expects to continue its discussions with Royal Caribbean Cruise to finalize the re-entry process.

    He says the Government also expects to mobilize other quarantine operations later this week.

    Mr. Holness says this will release resources to manage the vessel and provide the Jamaicans aboard with a safe and convenient re-entry experience, as quickly as possible.

    The declaration from the Prime Minister follows reports in the traditional and electronic media that the ship with over 1-thousand Jamaicans is set to arrive today in Falmouth.

    Meantime, Mr. Holness says since April 21, the government has had formal exchanges with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, RCCL, on how best to effect the return of Jamaican ship workers while at the same time fulfilling the minimum 14 days quarantine requirement.

    He says the last correspondence between RCCL and the Government was a request from the cruise liner made on Friday, May 15, 2020 for a conference call with relevant agencies to work out details of the re-entry.

    However he says up to this point no date for arrival was agreed and no approval was given.

    The Prime Minister says it’d represent a serious breach of maritime protocol and an act of bad faith if the vessel sailed into Jamaican waters without formal approval.

    Meanwhile, Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Port Authority of Jamaica, Kimberley Stiff, says she has been advised that no cruise ship is scheduled to arrive in Jamaica today.

    She says the ports remain closed.

    And Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says his information also corroborates word that no approval has been given for the cruise ship to arrive in Jamaica today.

    Minister Tufton also says there’s no reason to believe that a ship could be on its way to Jamaica without the knowledge and consent of the government.

    He says given the state and nature of discussions with operators in the cruise ship industry, there’s nothing that would have led the government to believe a ship was on its way.

    He says the Ministry has been actively participating in negotiations that have been underway for the repatriation of Jamaican Crew Members and the consultations are being held to determine the safest method for this to be done.

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