VANCOUVER -- Surrey couple Marilyn and Bob Rorison touched down at Vancouver International Airport late Friday night after spending almost a month trapped onboard a cruise ship with a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re both exhausted and we just need to get home,” Bob Rorison told CTV News at the arrivals hall.

The couple were on vacation to celebrate Bob’s 70th birthday. They boarded the Zaandam, a Holland America cruise liner on March 7. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

During their time in lockdown, the couple told CTV News the situation onboard became desperate. They were confined to their room and didn’t know when they would be able to come home.

Four passengers died in late March while the boat floated off Panama City. Two hundred people on the ship also reported flu like symptoms, and no port would allow the ship to dock.

The U.S. announced Thursday that the ship could come into port in Florida and the Canadians would be flown home.

On Friday, the healthy passengers disembarked in Fort Lauderdale. Norma and David Kirkham, who live in Metchosin near Victoria, B.C., described how they were rushed onto a bus with other Canadian passengers. A large police motorcycle escort stopped traffic the entire way from the port to the tarmac of a nearby airport where a charter plane waited.

The Canadians were then flown to Toronto.

“It took at least two hours to deplane because we had to go through health checks, get on a bus and then they had to take us over to Terminal 3,” Rorison said.

The Rorisons caught a connecting flight to Calgary before arriving in Vancouver, saying it was a long journey.

“It’ll be midnight by the time we get home and nobody will be around. We’ll just close the door and lock it and stay inside for 14 days which will be like living in a palace compared to the room that we’ve had for 18 or 20 days,” said Rorison.

In her update today, B.C.’s provincial health officer emphasized how important it is for returning Canadians to follow quarantine procedures. 

"If you have a loved one, a community member who's coming home, do what you need to do to support them," Henry said.

“We need to be united, all of us, in stopping the transmission of this virus now."

The Canadian government has so far repatriated 9,700 Canadian citizens and permanent residents who had been travelling or living abroad.

In a press release sent to Friday evening, Global Affairs said 385,182 people are registered with the government as currently being abroad. As a result, Global Affairs said the government won't be able to help everyone.

"Unfortunately, it will not be possible to ensure the return of all Canadians who wish to come home," the release reads.

"Canadians that are unable to return to Canada should monitor local media and follow local public health advice on lockdown or shelter-in-place guidance."