(Trinidad Express) – AN increasing number of suicides on cruise ships during the Covid-19 lockdown is leaving Trinidadian Sterling Howell — already stranded on the Caribbean Princess — more and more traumatised.
Howell, 41, of Laventille, and four other Trinidadian members of his band, Xcite, which was contracted to the Regal Princess ship, were “repatriated” by the cruise liner to the Caribbean Princess with the intention of taking them home.
He said there is one other Trinidadian stranded with them, a pan player.
However, Howell says the T&T Government has rejected their requests to return home.
The Caribbean Princess is in Barbados waters but will be moving on soon to Mexico and they will have to go along if the Government does not allow them to come home, he said.
In a video he posted on social media, Howell recalled that four crew members from different ships committed suicide.
Speaking to the Express yesterday, he said, “Unfortunately, that number has gone up to five.”
He said it was reported on CrewCenter, an online publication, that a 29-year-old shore excursion assistant manager with the Carnival Breeze cruise ship took his own life in his cabin.
Howell also said it was reported on CBS News that four workers had died on cruise ships in ten days.
Two were suicides.
The cause of deaths of the others remain unclear.
He said he was not sure what prompted the suicides but said he is surrounded by mentally distressed people.
He said he and his fellow Trinidadians are struggling to keep themselves motivated.
He said crew members on all ships had their contracts terminated and no one except essential workers, like chefs, are employed.More in Home
“Many would have been sending home money to their families, paying the mortgage for their houses. Crew members are mostly poor, hardworking people. Many are asking, after this what future would I have?”
Howell and his band began working on the Regal Princess on January 18.
The other band members are Esther Dyer, Sheldon George, Rondell Andy Edwards and Rodney Harris.
The steelpan player is Vivian Williams.
‘Rejected by Govt’
He said in March cruise ships were put on lockdown and all members were told they had to get off the ship.
“That’s when they began repatriating us, putting us on other ships closer to our various countries. We were transferred to the Caribbean Princess.
“The cruise line authorities began contacting the different governments to allow us to come home. Many Caribbean islands accepted their people. We dropped off people in Santo Domingo, St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada and Barbados.
“But our government rejected us. It is a hurtful feeling. We feel rejected, unloved, we are feeling our country doesn’t love us. It’s a really hard pill to swallow.
“We had all decided that if there was Covid-19 on the ship, we would not have tried to come home to protect the nation and our families. But to know nothing is wrong with us and we’re being rejected because of fear has been really mentally draining on us.”
Howell emphasised: “This is not about politics. I voted for the PNM. This is about me being a citizen and feeling we’re not being treated right. You’re not supposed to leave anyone behind.”