'Disappointed And Anxious': Hundreds Of Aussies Stuck On Cruise Ships Beg To Be Brought Home
As countries around the world, including Australia, close their borders amid the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of Aussies have been left stranded on cruise ships overseas.
Australian passengers, desperate to come home, have sent out messages for assistance from the government on social media, while their families do as much as they can to help.
Sydney man Sakib Awan and his wife are among around 200 Australians currently stuck on the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship which left Sydney in February for what was supposed to be a 21-day trip of a lifetime.
Now, those on board have been left with little answers as to when they'll be able to get back home with the ship refused entry at multiple ports including in New Zealand and Fiji over the past few weeks.
"We have been shunted from port to port around the Pacific Ocean," Awan told 10 daily.
"No port has let us dock."
Passengers and crew have been given fresh hope that they will soon be allowed to disembark in Hawaii, but Awan said no one is certain because other ports keep turning them away.
"All on board are deeply concerned we will not be allowed to return home given new international travel restrictions being enacted on a daily basis," Awan also said.
Video shared from the family of other Australians on board the ship, shows a group of passengers chanting "bring us home".
Claire Huntley who posted the video online on Friday said her brother and his wife were among the Aussies stuck on the cruise and were desperate to come home.
"Australians make up the biggest numbers from any one country," Huntley said.
"We all want more information from the Australian government and the Norwegian Cruise Line about the plan that will bring the Aussies home."
Awan told 10 daily he and his wife have already been forced to cancel five flights and hotel transfers because their plans continue to change.
Awan, who has a heart condition, is also worried his medication will soon run out.
"The average age on the boat, is about 65 or 70 and, like me, many have heart disease," he said.
"I packed a little bit extra medication but I will run out soon if we can't get off and get home"
We are grim, disappointed and have high anxiety.
Hundreds of Australians on board other cruise ships are also beginning to feel the stress of floating aimlessly at sea.
Grafton woman Danielle Deefholts is desperate to bring her parents, Ross and Karen McGarvie, home from the Costa Victoria cruise ship which is currently headed towards Venice in Italy.
Deefholts said her parents believe there are no cases of Covid-19 on the ship, which has many Australians on board -- but passengers did not want to disembark in Italy -- where the coronavirus crisis has now become the world's worst.
"Costa (Crociere) is supposed to be organising flights home but they don’t know anything more," Deefholts told 10 daily, adding the cruise was due to dock in Venice on March 28.
"At the moment they are in the middle of the ocean."
Deefholts said she had contacted the Australian embassy and said while they were aware there were Australians on board the ship they hadn't given her much information about whether they would support them in coming home.
10 daily has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for comment.
Earlier this week, DFAT updated its advice to Australians overseas saying those who wished to come home should do so "as soon as possible" via commercial means.
Australians overseas who don't return home have also been warned the government may not be able to provide consular assistance as more countries introduce restrictions on movement and other services.
As cases of coronavirus continue to rise globally, cruise ships have repeatedly been refused entry at ports around the world.
In Australia, the federal government issued a ban last week on international cruise ships entering the country for 30 days in a bid to stem the spread of the disease.
It comes as NSW Health was forced to defend its decision to allow around 2,700 passengers to disembark in Sydney on Thursday after four cases of coronavirus were confirmed on the ship.
On Saturday, NSW Health said it had since confirmed another four cruise ships which had visited Sydney in the last month had cases of an infected passenger on board.