Surrey couple trapped on cruise ship amid COVID-19 outbreak
VANCOUVER -- A Surrey couple’s dream vacation has turned into a nightmare.
"The situation on the ship, I would say it is desperate," Marilyn Rorison told CTV News Vancouver.
Marilyn and her husband, Bob Rorison, were on vacation to celebrate his 70th birthday. They'd decided to take a cruise to mark the occasion, and boarded the vessel on March 7.
Now they are among close to 100 Canadians trapped on a cruise ship amid a COVID-19 outbreak that has left four passengers dead.
They are anxious to get home but so far, not a single port has agreed to let them dock so passengers can disembark.
"We have not been allowed entry into any port all along the South American coast so far," said Bob.
According to Holland America, 73 passengers and 116 crew members on the MS Zaandam have reported flu-like symptoms. Two have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Rorisons have been confined to their small room for eight days, apart from a single 30-minute outdoor break last week.
"We're locked in our room and that's probably the best place to be,” said Bob.
The couple first learned there was a problem on board the ship through an announcement from the captain one night that said Chile was going to close all borders and that no one would be allowed off the ship.
The ship was able to pass through the Panama Canal on Sunday night but it’s unclear where the vessel will be allowed to dock.
"We are still finalizing the details for where and when our guests will disembark, and are asking for the same compassion and humanity to be extended for our arrival," Holland America Line wrote in a statement. "The Zaandam cruise was originally scheduled to end in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 7th.”
Some passengers from the MS Zaandam were transferred to a second ship but the Rorisons were not among them. They say they are not sick, but worry that could change.
In a statement, Global Affairs Canada says: “At this time, no COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among Canadian passengers. We continue to engage with the passengers and Holland America to coordinate travel for Canadian citizens back to Canada upon disembarkation.”
The Rorisons are pleading with the federal government to do more to help them and other Canadians on board.
"I wait, I wonder and I worry. We don't know when we're getting home," said Marilyn.