Flashing smiles filled their faces so much that they were imprinted in the masks worn by all 29 Trinidad and Tobago nationals who finally touched home soil at the Port of Port-of-Spain on Thursday, after disembarking the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship.
Just after 3 pm, a shuttle vessel was seen making its way to the cruise ship docked in waters off the Gulf of Paria. Nearly an hour later, it was observed making its way back to the Cruise Ship Complex where the repatriated nationals were allowed their first footing on home soil in months.
After being brought to land in batches, all 29 nationals, fully outfitted in hazmat suits, were quickly loaded onto a PTSC bus and another unmarked bus before being whisked away to the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, where they will undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
The nationals were unable to contain their jubilation as they left the venue, waving and showing two thumbs up to members of the media covering their arrival. One individual was even seen draping a T&T flag outside one of the buses.
Speaking to Guardian Media on the condition of anonymity hours later, one of the repatriated nationals said they felt great to be back home but were finding it difficult to adjust to the conditions at the step-down facility.
“We’re all happy to be home but still feel stressed about having to do quarantine for two more weeks after doing it for over two months,” she said.
According to the crew member, Government could have moved with more alacrity in facilitating the return of themselves and many others stuck outside T&T’s borders.
“We were the last Caribbean country to be repatriated by the company. The Government did not want to cooperate well with the company, we were outside the border since May 31st as they denied us entry the day we arrived. We had to beg to come home.”
The woman added that quarantine conditions at the Racquet Centre were also different from that onboard the Carnival Fantasy. She explained that while each person was made to stay in separate rooms as a means of enforcing physical distancing on the ship, at the centre people were occupying “cubicles and shared bathrooms.”
Now that the nationals are inching closer to being with their loved ones, some have already set their sights on reacquainting their taste buds with some local favourites.