by Dr Clarice Modeste, Minister for Tourism
Yesterday morning I woke up with a sense of gratitude to God that our Grenadian sons and daughters on cruise ships would begin arriving today.
With the halt of cruise sailing due to the Covid-19, the Ministry of Tourism was approached by 3 cruise lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, Disney and MSC, to discuss arrangements for the repatriation of Grenadian crew. Dates of arrival were set for 21 and 25 May.
Government gave its commitment to bring everyone back, without counting the cost.
We began a search for accommodation from the private sector, and to establish a protocol for the management of the process, bearing in mind that there are health implications. The protocol included mandatory quarantine, medical checks and testing, and three meals per day. As both quarantine and testing had a cost, we agreed that the cruise lines would contribute $100 per day towards the quarantine.
We enquired from other countries who said they were using a combination of hotels and schools to accommodate their returnees.
Recently we heard from the media and other sources that there were 2 cruise ships in the Caribbean waters and that they were due to arrive in Grenada on 9 and 10 of May.
Official contact was made with us on short notice and approval was given in spite of the late notice. The established protocol was communicated and agreed to. Hours before the arrival of the first ship, we were informed that they would not pay the contribution to the quarantine.
In the interest of our citizens, we said bring them home, regardless. No money has been paid to the Ministry of Tourism on behalf of any cruise ship worker.
The SGU campus has been used in recent times by paying students.
The facility had been inspected, cleaned and sanitised by a professional firm shortly after we were contacted by the 3 cruise lines mentioned before. We obtained washing machines, drier, and 2 refrigerators, through the kind courtesy of the private sector, cleaning supplies were put in place.
However, dust does gather quickly and in the hasty preparations for the unscheduled ships a final inspection was not done.
We apologise for this oversight. It is never our intention to show any disregard to anyone, especially our citizens.
The shortcomings will be rectified in the shortest possible time. This started last night with the provision of meals and other urgent needs.
I thank the high ranking officials of the Ministry of Health, Tourism, Customs, Immigration, Police, and all those who came to welcome and provide services to our Grenadian citizens. These people took the time off, to come on a shutdown day to ensure the safety of the crew, and of the nation.
I am happy for the mothers who now know where their children are, and those who are looking forward to see others arrive on cruise ships in the following days. This caring government stands ready to bring our sons and daughters home.
Happy Mother’s Day to all.