Bermudian makes it home after months at sea
A Bermudian theatre technician stranded on a Disney cruise ship because of the Covid-19 crisis has made it back to Bermuda after ten months.
Edward Dawson, 24, arrived in Bermuda on the Air Canada flight last Thursday. He said: “It is so nice to be home.”
Mr Dawson's ordeal began after he started work with Disney Cruise Line in Florida on September 28.
He was on the Disney Dream in March when the ship ceased operations because of Covid-19 pandemic.
Although no one on the vessel had Covid-19, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention would not allow entry to the United States to anyone who was not a resident of the relevant state without a confirmed flight out.
Mr Dawson planned to fly out on March 21, but LF Wade International Airport closed the day before, which left him on the ship for months.
He said he tried without success to get a flight home.
Mr Dawson was unable to board a charter flight from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Bermuda in April because the American authorities would not allow him to stay in a hotel in the state overnight.
Because the flight departed very early, the logistics of customs clearance and immigration before he boarded the plane were too difficult.
Mr Dawson said the Disney Dream kept its crew members comfortable and healthy, but that by June, he wanted to get back to Bermuda.
He added: “I had been calling my parents and saying I am ready to come home now, so it was nice to finally leave.”
Mr Dawson researched routes to get home after the Government announced the airport would reopen on July 2.
He added it helped that he also held a Canadian passport.
He found that the Caribbean island of Curaçao was to allow crew members to fly from its airport to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The Disney Dream dropped him and several other crew off in Curaçao.
Mr Dawson said: “It was a nine-hour flight to Amsterdam. There was an eight-hour layover and then it was an eight-hour flight to Toronto.”
He waited in quarantine in Toronto at an airport hotel for three days before he caught the Air Canada flight to Bermuda. Mr Dawson estimated there were about 20 crew members left on the Disney Dream, waiting to return home, when he disembarked.
He said: “I got word that my travel plans had been approved only 24 hours before I needed to fly to Amsterdam. A friend helped me pack.”
He said the suitcase he packed was mostly full of yarn because he had taken up crochet to help while away the time on the ship.
Mr Dawson said he took the required second coronavirus test after arrival on Monday, which came back clear yesterday.
But he will have to be tested twice more over the next two weeks before he is allowed freedom of movement. He said: “I know I didn't have it on the ship. But the risk comes from the transit to get here.”
Mr Dawson admitted he shed a few tears after the plane touched down on Bermudian soil — but only during the mandatory coronavirus nose and throat swab test at the airport.
His parents, Sharon and Duncan Dawson, met him outside.
He said: “We couldn't hug at the airport and went straight to the car.
“At home, it was straight into the shower and throw all the clothes into the wash.”
Mr Dawson added that the cruise ship sector had been unfairly criticised over the pandemic.
He said: “The cruise ship industry is so amazing. It is so frustrating how much [United States president Donald] Trump and the CDC have painted cruise ships in a bad way.
“You are so much more likely to get sick on an aircraft than a cruise ship.”
Mr Dawson added he did not know how long he would stay in Bermuda.
He said: “I get rock fever pretty quick.”
Mr Dawson added he loved his seagoing job, but it was still unclear when cruise ship sailings would resume.
Disney, in line with other operators, has suspended operations until September 15.