Back home, cruise ship worker craves for roti, mangoes

One of the six Trinidad and Tobago nationals who were on board the Caribbean Princess and allowed to return home on Saturday says she cried when she was welcomed back after being stranded at sea for months.

In an interview with Guardian Media on Monday, an obviously overjoyed Esther Dyer, a female vocalist with the band Xcite, was full of praise for everyone who advocated to get her and the other five locals back home.

For months, Dyer, Rodney Harris, Sheldon George, Rondell Andy Edwards and Vivian Williams were stuck on the ship, which was docked off the coast of Barbados.

The six nationals were taken to the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Debe campus for their 14-day quarantine on Saturday night, immediately after coming ashore.

Asked if she believed more should have been done sooner to bring them home, Dyer said, “I can’t say, I’m not in the position and maybe it’s not easy to make these decisions because it was not easy for my company to take a decision to cease operations and dealing with a massive scale repatriation effort with over 20,000 stranded crew.

“I know that at times we felt hopeless, I just know that we needed to come home and be with the people that we loved.”

She said while the group makes their living at sea, being stuck on the ship with no idea of when they would be able to come home while the world braced itself for the wrath of the COVID-19 virus, left them scared and in despair.

“The difference was we were no longer working and facing the impact of the possibility of not being able to go back home, the crash of our industry and the source of our income,” Dyer said.

Recounting the final leg of their journey back to the island, Dyer said she told herself not to cry when she saw the first hint of lights from Trinidad at sea.

“I started to tear up and tell myself, don’t cry, don’t be a punk. And when we boarded the vessel and the guy said ‘Welcome home, we are so happy to have you guys,’” I just bust down crying,” she said.

But with her prayers answered, Dyer said her heart was heavy for other crew members who were not being allowed into their home countries.

“I had all these mixed emotions. I didn’t know if I wanted to come home anymore, I was sad that I was getting to go home, some of my friends not getting to go home, they are still stuck out there and I keep humming that song from Machel and David Rudder, ‘This is the land of oil and music’ (Oil & Music) one of my favourite songs and you know, this is home, and will always be home, no matter what happens.”

With 13 days left of her quarantine as of Monday morning, Dyer was all smiles as she talked about her post-quarantine plans.

“What I really need to do is find a really nice roti and a nice big bag of mangoes, different ones, and spend as much time with family as possible. They were sending me videos and pictures and that just kept me going, seeing my nieces and nephews laugh and play and be totally clueless about all of this disaster going on around them, I just need to indulge in everything that means the most to me which is family,” she said.


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