Cruise ship with 1,044 J'cans did not change course, says captain

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Cruise ship with 1,044 J'cans did not change course, says captain

Monday, May 18, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica —Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is moving to dispel reports circulating on social media that its Adventure of the Seas vessel has made an about-turn and that plans to repatriate the 1,044 Jamaican crew members aboard have been shelved.

In a message to crew members a short while ago, the vessel's captain said that he is still awaiting confirmation from the Jamaican Government on the way forward.

“Yesterday we were sailing along the coast of Hispaniola. We had to keep the speed up because the wave was quite high and if you reduce the speed too much you'll get slamming. So we're making a dip in speed and now we're west of Haiti. In an hour or so we will stop the ship and drift comfortably here. We're only about 100 miles from Falmouth and we can reach Falmouth in a few hours,” the captain is heard saying in audio obtained by OBSERVER ONLINE.

“We are going to drift here and wait for instructions to proceed. The conversations and negotiations in Jamaica are still ongoing. To put it in perspective the final approval for disembarking our Dominican colleagues came only the day before we actually disembarked them. So this is how things work out. The other one is to think about the process that we have to go through,” he added, noting that there are final steps to be taken in getting the Jamaicans home which can be “tricky”.

The captain said that he is confident that the Government wants to iron out the issues as quickly as possible but until then he will await final instructions.

Several frantic crew members contacted OBSERVER ONLINE this morning indicating that the ship had changed course and was moving away from Jamaican waters.

"The navigation system is showing us the speed and course right now. So at this moment, it has taken a 0.41-degree turn so it's changing course this morning. So that's the present position we are in right now," one of the crew members said.

In a statement last evening, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the ship has not been given approval to enter into Jamaican waters.

"I indicated in Parliament last Tuesday, when asked by the Opposition Spokesman on National Security [Fitz Jackson] that we were in ongoing negotiations regarding the return of cruise ship workers, but those discussions were not yet finalised," the prime minister said.

"To this point, the ministers assigned to deal with the re-entry of Jamaican cruise ship workers have not had any final request or even notice from RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruise Line) of the current proposed date they intend to enter Jamaican territorial waters or seek to dock in our ports. I have been informed by the Port Authority that they have given no approvals to the ship," he added.

Holness said that the Government had taken note of postings in social media and press statements from the Opposition regarding the cruise ship coming to Jamaica.

He said that if the reports are true, "this would represent a serious departure from good maritime practices, a serious breach of good faith and the cooperative nature of the dialogue we have been having on this matter".

Thousands of Jamaicans became stranded overseas when the country's air and sea ports were ordered closed on March 24 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More information later.

Kimone Francis

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