‘We just want them home safely’ - Norfolk woman demands answers as mother, 75, stranded on cruise ship
PUBLISHED: 14:27 15 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:13 16 March 2020
FRED. OLSEN CRUISE LINES
A Norfolk woman has been left stranded on a cruise ship in the Bahamas on which 20 people are currently in isolation and five have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Helen Littlewood, 39, from New Buckenham, says her 75-year-old mother is one of 682 people stranded on a cruise ship 25 miles off the northern coast of the Bahamas after it was blocked from a string of ports after a coronavirus outbreak onboard.
Ms Littlewood claims her mother and her mother's partner who boarded the Braemar, a Fred. Olsen Cruise Liner, on March 1 in St Maartens after they were unable to board in the Dominican Republic on February 28, were not informed that passengers on a previous voyage had fallen ill with 'flu-like' symptoms and that the ship had been refused at two ports.
But on Tuesday March 10, the ship was put on red alert as five passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ms Littlewood said: 'I got told the previous passengers were kissing the ground because they were so relieved to get off but then they allowed another 600 to board.
'After coronavirus was confirmed on the ship it was put on red alert and they were refused docking at Barbados so they headed to the Bahamas.
'But then we found out their government had issued a statement to say that it will not accept them.
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'Right now, they are anchored 25 miles outside of the Bahamas and there is only one doctor on board who has been put into quarantine. It's terrifying for them.
'My mum is of a high-risk category. Luckily she has medication on board, but they are stranded. The passengers are panicked, worried and desperate for information.'
A statement on the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines's website says: 'Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship Braemar remains at anchor in The Bahamas to take on board supplies - while diplomatic discussions continue to get passengers home as quickly as possible.
'Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that there are now 20 guests in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms. There are also 20 crew members who are isolated, including a doctor. This includes five people who tested positive for coronavirus at our last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday, March 10.
'Two additional doctors and a nurse are en route to The Bahamas today to assist the on board Medical Team. One further nurse is already on the ground in The Bahamas and is awaiting clearance from local authorities to board the ship.'
Despite staff and crew on the ship working around the clock to control the outbreak and make sure passengers are comfortable, Ms Littlewood says communication from the company's head office has been minimal and families have been 'left in the dark'.
She added: 'The Fred. Olsen crew and captain have been exceptional but what has been appalling is the head office communication. They haven't got any answers for us.
'It's an unprecedented time and nobody knew how this would escalate but they shouldn't have let those passengers on board. Now we just want them home safely.'
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