The Florida couple have been confined to their cabin after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19
Palm Beach residents Brad and Susan Gary are among roughly 300 passengers confined to their cabins while their cruise ship is being indefinitely held at a port in Brazil after a passenger fell ill and tested positive for the COVID-19 disease.
The Garys said Sunday they are all right and are being treated well, but the passengers haven’t been told when the ship will be free to resume its journey along the Brazilian coast, into the Caribbean and on to its final destination, Fort Lauderdale.
The retired couple seemed in good spirits during a phone interview Sunday, but said they are somewhat uncomfortable being stuck in uncertain circumstances, thousands of miles from home.
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“I think what we are all looking for are some reassurances for the plan to get out of here,” said Susan Gary, who is a member of the town’s Underground Utilities Task Force.
The Garys flew to Buenos Aires Feb. 26 and boarded the Silversea cruise line’s 610-foot Silver Shadow for a 30-day cruise northward along South America’s Atlantic coast. The boat was originally due to arrive in Florida on March 26, she said.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Palm Beach County stood at five as of midnight Saturday, with 100 cases statewide.
The couple was returning to the ship from a shore excursion at Recife, in northeastern Brazil, three days ago when they noticed an ambulance taking a passenger to the hospital. They later learned that a passenger had tested positive for the virus, and that another passenger also was hospitalized.
“We got back on the ship,” Susan Gary said. “Later that day, the captain came on board and said no one would be allowed off.”
Brad Gary said, “They sort of impounded us here the last two days in our cabins. But we are fine. We can’t get into too much trouble, sitting here in our 8-by-10-foot cell. Everybody is going through this.”
The Silver Shadow's passenger capacity is 388, with a crew capacity of 302, according to the cruise line’s website.
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The passengers’ food is brought to their cabins, and the captain is communicating with them through the intercom, Brad Gary said.
Initially, the passengers were told not to leave their rooms, but they are now allowed out onto the ship for an hour or two each day, Susan Gary said.
“We were lucky,” she said. “We had decided to get a veranda so we can open the door and get some fresh air.”
She said passengers were told it’s up to Brazilian port officials when they can return to sea. The hardest part is waiting and not knowing.
“They’ve been very good about serving us meals and cleaning the room, but they’re not giving us any information at all about possibilities going forward,” she said. “We have no idea how long we will be here.”
When the couple left for the cruise in late February, the coronavirus was still concentrated in China and there had been no cases in South America, Gary said. So the Garys, who love to travel, decided not to cancel.
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When the Garys get back to Palm Beach, they will be staying put for a while, Brad Gary said.
“I would not want people to take a cruise right now,” he said. “It’s nice to come back home with a good story to tell, but not with a disease.”
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.