Twenty-two Bermudians left on cruise ship
More than 20 Bermudians are marooned on a cruise ship denied entry to a series of ports in the Southern Hemisphere because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group is on board the Bermudian-registered cruise ship, Coral Princess, which was on a cruise from Santiago in Chile around South America and the Caribbean.
Pamela Maybury, who works for island travel agents Travel Edge is a passenger on the ship.
She said: “We were on the first leg, which would've been 14 days, finishing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“We got as far as the Falkland Islands and then couldn't go into any more ports as they were denying us entry because of the virus.”
The Coral Princess set sail from Santiago in Chile on March 5 for a 32-day cruise in the Latin American region, but is now steaming back to its final destination, Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
The ship is owned by Princess Cruises, whose Diamond Princess ship was earlier quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, after hundreds came down with Covid-19. Ten had died by Tuesday.
Mrs Maybury said she and other passengers on the Coral Princess had been tested for symptoms of the highly contagious coronavirus that causes Covid-19. All had come back clear.
“We have had our temperature checked a few times and there's nobody who has been sick on the ship at all at this point.
“Everybody has been very healthy, so that's been our saving grace. Nobody has even had a cold.
“I think this is our safest place and the crew have taken good care of us.”
Mrs Maybury said all 22 Bermudian passengers on the ship were kept up to date on the Covid-19 crisis at home.
She added: “Everybody in the group has been in contact with their families and jobs back home all day, every day, so everybody is on the same page.
“People have been calling and sending e-mails, which we appreciate, but this is business as usual.
“We are on a cruise ship and people are enjoying themselves, so as far as we are concerned we are pretty safe and we're happy.”
Ms Maybury said: “Our concern will be when we get off the ship, as we know we have to be quarantined for 14 days.
“The reality will set in after we leave the ship, just wondering if you're safe on your way to the airport and things like that.”
There were, at first, 34 Bermudians on the Coral Princess.
However, 12 of them managed to catch a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and travelled in a bus escorted by police after the ship was granted permission by local authorities to enter port.
The rest missed another flight because of a delay in the return of the bus to the Coral Princess to pick up the remainder and had to return to the ship.
Another attempt to offload passengers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was made, but it was unsuccessful.
Ms Maybury said the passengers would have to remain on board until they reached Fort Lauderdale, where they will be transported to catch a flight back to Bermuda.
She added: “The airport opens on April 6, so we will have to stay on the ship until we can get off and go directly to our flight.
“Our flight is actually on April 8, so we will probably be on the ship for another three or four days after we get to Fort Lauderdale, and then they will escort us to Miami Airport.”
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the $45 billion-a-year cruise industry.
Passengers on other ships have had their trips cancelled or altered and operators such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean International have warned that the crisis will have a serious effect on their business.