SOS: Cruise ship with Ja’cans on-board to seek landing in UK after Portugal rejection

Marella Discovery II at Port Royal, Jamaica in January.

Marella Discovery II The Marella Discovery II—the cruise ship which has been stranded at sea due to the coronavirus—is now looking to the UK after it was denied access to Portugal’s port on the weekend.

The embattled ship has 45 Jamaicans onboard is now on its way to the United Kingdom, where crew members are hoping to find favour with authorities there.

“We are on our way to the UK because Portugal didn’t allow us to dock. Just about everywhere in Europe is closed. Let’s see what will happen when we go to the UK,” the Observer Online quoted a crew member.

The rejection comes almost two weeks after the Jamaicans aboard the ship—which made a historic call to Port Royal in January—were denied entry into their own country when the vessel stopped in Jamaican waters on April 2.

At that time, a request by the ship’s captain for the Jamaicans to disembark reportedly went unanswered by the government, which had, on March 24, imposed a travel restriction on incoming passengers to the island in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday, Fitz Jackson—the Opposition People’s National Party spokesman on national security—blasted the Government, arguing that its decision to deny the group of Jamaicans aboard the ship entry into the country with no alternative provisions for their well-being was “inhumane and draconian”.

Fitz Jackson

“Irrespective of the powers granted under the Disaster [Risk Management] Act, every Jamaican has the right of entry into the island and this right should not be arbitrarily denied to anyone without an appropriate plan of action for their protection,” he said.

“The Government failed to protect our citizens who are aboard the Marella Discovery 2, now heading to a foreign port that has no constitutional obligation to our citizens. The country needs to be told what arrangements have been put in place to ensure their safety,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that consideration is being given to raising money to assist Jamaican seafarers facing hardship overseas as a result of the border closure.