Royal Caribbean’s ship, Vision of the Seas will repatriate the Vincentians. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Three hundred and fifty-six Vincentian seafarers are scheduled to arrive in Vincentian waters on Tuesday aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line vessel Vision of the Seas.

The Vincentians will be administered rapid tests for COVID-19 and because of the time this is expected to take, the last of the sailors are not expected to disembark until Thursday.

The ship is expected to arrive in Vincentian waters around 4 a.m.

“All 356 of them will be screened for COVID-19, using rapid and PCR tests. Due to the time required to process this number of tests, it is anticipated that the Vincentian crew members may not complete disembarking the ship before Thursday May 28, 2020,” the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said in a press release Tuesday night.

Last week, all 25 Vincentian sailors repatriated by Disney were sent into a hotel to complete their quarantine although their rapid — and later, PCR tests — for COVID-19 were negative.

Disney had agreed to pay for the quarantine, unlike Carnival Cruise Line, which had earlier repatriated 100 Vincentians in two batches — 92 and eight — and Royal Caribbean, which arrives tomorrow.

The sailors returning on Royal Caribbean this week will only go to a government approved quarantine facility if they test positive for COVID-19.

NEMO said:

Crewmembers found to be positive for COVID–19 will be placed in a government approved isolation facility until they have recovered as evidenced by two consecutive negative PCR COVID-19 tests. Crew members who are negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to quarantine in their private homes for the required 14-day period.”

NEMO said the “enhanced repatriation protocol” is aimed at minimising the risk of importation of new COVID-19 cases into St. Vincent and the Grenadines “posed by this particular group of Vincentians.

“The increased risk was determined in view of reports of the presence of known cases of COVID-19 on the ships of origin of some of the crew members and more recent reports of crew members testing positive for COVID-19 on disembarking this particular ship.

“The COVID-19 Task Force/Health Services Sub-committee is committed to reducing the risk of new importation and subsequent exposure of the Vincentian public to COVID-19. Every effort is being made and existing protocols will be continuously reviewed to ensure that COVID-19 remains contained in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the statement said. 

A Vincentian aboard the ship on Monday sent iWitness News a photograph of the following note that has been issued to them by the cruise line regarding their arrival and disembarkation.