Bermudian seniors on holiday stranded in UK
Elderly Bermudians trapped in Britain by the coronavirus crisis pleaded to come home yesterday.
Renee Wilson, 71, from Hamilton Parish, said she was with a group of older Bermudians stranded in London for eight days after they were marooned on a cruise ship in the southern hemisphere when the pandemic took hold.
Ms Wilson said it was “an ordeal” and that some in her party were running short of medication. She was speaking after it was revealed on Monday that a British Airways charter flight had been arranged to bring Bermudians stuck in Britain home next week.
Ms Wilson's group embarked on a 20-day cruise from Dubai to South Africa aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Spirit in late February.
She said they flew to join the cruise from New York without problems. But the ship got rejected at “all other ports” after it had called at three countries on the route.
Ms Wilson said the group faced “anxious times due to lack of information and increasing costs due to internet and purchasing all-new airline tickets”.
She added they were allowed to disembark in Cape Town, South Africa, and were taken straight to the airport, where they bought tickets before they found out that NCL had organised a charter.
Ms Wilson said that the group had flown into London but, since then, the group had been bounced through three hotels because of pandemic closures. She added: “This has been hard on the group emotionally and financially.”
She said they were grateful to “the Premier and the Cabinet of Bermuda for their care and concern and their intervention on our behalf”.
Ms Wilson said she looked forward to “mandatory quarantine on our home soil”.
She explained: “There is no place like home. Our hearts are full of gratitude.”
Louise Payne, 66, from Pembroke, said she booked “the trip of a lifetime” when she retired after 45 with the same company.
Ms Payne said she had gone “way, way outside of my comfort zone” and would not have set off in February had there been “any concern”.
She added there had been no discussion of Covid-19 before she left the island and the coronavirus pandemic had not hit any of the places she due to visit.
Ms Payne said: “We were not being frivolous when we left for this cruise and our only sense that the world had changed was when the Seychelles would not accept us.
Ms Payne said: “I do not believe any other place on this world measures up to Bermuda in my humble opinion, and I just want to come home.”
Marie Ford, a 60-year-old from Warwick, thanked the Government's London office for “their diligence in organising a charter flight home”.
She said: “We are all senior citizens and have been moved from hotel to hotel since arriving in UK.
“A curfew is in place here ... it has been very stressful, to say the least.”
Ms Ford said the group had had to deal with the expense of food, hotel moves, changed flights that were later cancelled and their lack of warm clothes.
She added: “All of us are on medication and some of us only have enough to cover to Friday of this week. Hopefully, three days without medication will not be too bad.”
Ms Ford told David Burt, the Premier: “Thank you again — we appreciate you and your team.”
They were speaking after Mr Burt announced, with John Rankin, the Governor, that a British Airways charter flight would be organised for next week.
Mr Rankin said the aircraft would also be loaded with cargo, including medical supplies.
The plane is scheduled to continue to the Cayman Islands after its stop in Bermuda.