More than 30 cruise ships remain at sea for coronavirus: how they live and their passengers

The couple from Texas, Jay and Carmen Martinez celebrated their wedding on the beach and went on a cruise honeymoon in the South Pacific ocean aboard Norwegian Jewel, tells CNN.

Более 30 круизных лайнеров остаются в море из-за коронавируса: как живут их пассажиры

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On the eve of departure to Australia on 28 February, the pair was worried about the dissemination of coronavirus, but was not able to cancel a 23-day trip that they booked two years earlier. Now they are among thousands of passengers are still at sea aboard more than 30 ocean-going cruise liners, many of which are still trying to find a port where they will be in the global spot of the cruise industry due to pandemic coronavirus.

It is believed that Norwegian Jewel heading to Hawaii, but the official destination yet, and the ship have not done so already in several ports.

“We had fluctuations,” — said Jay Martinez. But until the day of departure we did not have the opportunity to cancel the trip. And since we spent a lot of money on our honeymoon, we had no choice but to take the ship.”

The couple was afraid that their route will change, but they absolutely never imagined would be stranded at sea when their ship will have to struggle to find a Parking space.

The escalation of the situation

Jay and Carmen wasn’t the only one trapped. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus was struck by the many vessels at sea, the international Association of cruise lines (CLIA) has decided on March 13 to suspend operations at the ports of entry in the United States for 30 days. CLIA includes 38 cruise companies, representing more than 95% of world cruise opportunities — a total of 277 vessels.

“Several ships about 14% of the total CLIA fleet — currently at sea in his flight, — said in a statement to CNN. — We are focused on getting as fast as possible to get these ships back into port.”

The situation has deteriorated about a week ago, when CLIA withdrew their ships, and French Polynesia were not allowed to dock Norwegian Jewel. First, the ship had planned to go to Fiji and be unloaded there, but the plan was rejected in a way, when island country said that a cruise liner will not be accepted. New Zealand followed suit.

Subsequently, the ship was allowed to refuel in American Samoa.

“And that’s when we started our long journey to Hawaii,” says Jay.

Cruise operator Norwegian has not yet given official confirmation of final destination of the vessel. In response to a query from a CNN spokesman confirmed that the docking layout in New Zealand was scrapped.

“We will share the update as soon as it becomes available”, they said.

Jay says that travelers “sailing on the waves of emotion” is a relief after news that soon docks, and then the disappointment, when those plans turn.

Yet everyone who is on Board Norwegian Jewel, healthy, no cases of coronavirus, or quarantine. However, Jay says that the guests concerned and very concerned about the rising tensions, as the trajectory of the vessel is becoming more uncertain.

All I know, he said that there is a real possibility of stretching the situation in the days and even weeks. People have a growing concern about the discontinuation of the drug, health, friends, families, and the availability of livelihood at home.

Pacific princess

On the other side of the Pacific ocean 76-year-old Ron Ernst plays the same game of “expectation and reality” aboard the Pacific Princess, a cruise ship with 338 cabins and a capacity of 670 guests.

Ron and his wife, Susie boarded the ship on January 20 in Los Angeles. Elderly California couple have been to 25 cruises, including survived three trips around the world. They went into a 111-day cruise Odyssey, barely aware of the growing threat of coronavirus.

“I’m sure we’ve heard about a virus in China, but we have not had any problems,” says Ron.

In late February it became known that the virus can affect their itinerary.

The ship missed calls on the Indonesian island of Bali, in Singapore and in the Thai resort of Phuket. Passengers were also forbidden to leave the ship in Sri Lanka.

As Norwegian Jewel, the ship Pacific princess has not confirmed cases of coronavirus, but is still experiencing a wave of uncertainty.

“The next night, after the Sri Lankan captain made a shocking statement that, in view of the developing and rapidly changing conditions, the cruise ended in Fremantle/Perth, says Ron. We quickly realized that getting serious”.

The ship made the turn 180 degrees in the night and began an 18-day journey back to Australia.

“Life on the ship continued with great food, entertainment and lots of communication, says Ron. We were healthy and comfortable in its safe cocoon. Not all were looking forward to returning to the world. The crew is absolutely fantastic. Their future is unclear, but they do not allow themselves to show it. The ship did an amazing job, especially given these unprecedented conditions”.

Answering the question about the status of the vessel and on it, Princess Cruises sent CNN an online statement confirming the final destination and offering a hotline for friends and family.

Also on Board the Pacific Princess was a 63-year-old C. J. Hayden, author and business coach from San Francisco.

Hayden, traveling with his partner Dave Chernenko, told CNN that he hopes to return home as soon as possible in case there will be introduced additional restrictions on travel.

“Now we are most worried about is whether we will be able to return home to North America until the closure of the airports, cities or even borders, she said. — The ship can’t go faster.”

On Board were 547 passengers, and 448 — Americans. Princess Cruises say that organized the flights for each passenger and paid for the tickets. Anyone who can’t fly for medical reasons, will remain on the ship when the ship will sail to Los Angeles.

Australia has previously announced it is closing its ports to cruise ship passengers. Hayden says that passengers Pacific Princess was granted permission to disembark, provided that they immediately go to the airport.

Those who have not booked tickets for a flight on March 21, will remain on Board until their flight is ready for departure the next day.

“Almost all of the passengers are elderly people, many of whom are over 70 and 80 years, and many of them with disabilities, said Hayden earlier this week. — Some people are well kept, others worried”.

Like Ron, Hayden said that “uncertainty” is the most difficult thing with which to deal.

Stay connected

On Board Norwegian Jewel Jay, working in the field of foreign relations, tries to take itself remote work with the ocean. Carmen, who works in the field of prevention of diseases, do not have this capability. As some of the more young and tech-savvy guests, both trying to help elderly passengers.

“We can help, contact family members who have trouble connecting via the Internet or telephone to those who are on this ship,” says Jay.

He praises the members of the crew, stuck on Board and unsure of the future, emphasizing their “phenomenal work on hygiene,” and their consistent generosity and understanding.

“There are a lot of disappointed people, and it is unfortunate that they blame on the shortcomings of the cruise line, because the crew just did a great job,” says Jay.

Uncertain times

Right now those who are on Board Norwegian Jewel, fingers crossed, to be allowed to land in Hawaii, but Jay says that they have not received clear information about how they will get home from the island.

“This uncertainty, this uncertainty as to what will be our fate, I think, the most difficult to understand,” he says.

A big part of the tourist industry suffered greatly from the pandemic coronavirus — hoteliers lay off workers, airlines are turning for help to the government and the cruise ships get in the headlines for all possible reasons.

Go Jay and Carmen on a cruise ever?

Jay diplomatically — no one knows how it will look in the tourist landscape in six months or a year, he says. In addition, he hopes that the cruise ships will use new methods for solving such situations.

“I would not say that it excludes cruises in the future, he said. — I think this discussion we are going to spend when we get home and the dust settles. A lot will depend on how things will continue to evolve, and how will react to a cruise line after their 30-day pause in connection with this outbreak”.

And despite the fact that they are stuck at sea and are not sure when they will again see the land, on Board were joyful moments.

In the end, Jay and Carmen celebrate their honeymoon. On March 19 they noted one month after the wedding day.

“It was cruise, vacation and honeymoon like no one else, and at a great and terrible reasons,” says Jay.

“We are very closely related to each other, I think we find comfort in each other, finding humor in our situation, transferring the problem from different countries and sharing these news,” he says.

C. J. Hayden tells similar stories from the Pacific Princess.

“Some of us help each other to learn new skills, she said. — Two volunteers helped me, and others studied watercolor painting. Another passenger taught my husband how to use the simulator. We taught several people to play dominoes”.

She recalls how the ship stayed in Sri Lanka for refueling.

“On the dock near the ship were soldiers with guns and dogs, and the workers unloaded the supplies in masks and gloves. At 10 a.m. a passenger choir gathered on the deck of the pool and sang “Put on a Happy Face”.

Jay says he’s proud of how passengers and crew cooperated in the face of uncertainty.

“That’s fine, because I feel that our world is sometimes very separated, he continues. — It’s nice to feel that we can take a stand in this pandemic as a global initiative, and I think we have our own little mini-community, which represents only what we care about each other and want everyone to come home and not just one nationality”.

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