29th Mar, 2020

Coronavirus: Distraught daughter plea to help rescue parents from cruise ship nightmare

Catherine Thompson 25th Mar, 2020 Updated: 26th Mar, 2020

A DISTRAUGHT daughter is pleading with authorities to help bring her parents home after they were refused permission to leave a cruise ship in South America.

Georgina Forsyth’s parents, John and Linda Langford, left on a ‘cruise of a lifetime’ on March 1 before the coronavirus took firm hold in the UK

The couple – who are in their 60s – were due to fly home from Argentine capital Buenos Aires on March 19 but were not allowed to disembark by authorities in time to catch their flight, despite no cases of the virus on the ship.

They were woken at 3am to have their temperatures taken, and were told they could disembark after the Argentinian passengers, but it was too late.

The crew was told if the ship stayed at the dock passengers would be locked-down until further notice as ordered by Argentine President Alberto Fernandez.

The Coral Princess continued to Montevideo in Uruguay where passengers were again refused permission to disembark due to fears of coronavirus.

The ship is now sailing to Florida in the hope of passengers being allowed to disembark.

But Georgina, from Henley-in-Arden, said there was no guarantee passengers would be allowed to leave the ship when it got there, which would not be until April 5.

The mum-of-two said she was just about holding it together as she awaited to hear her parents’ fate.

She told the Observer: “Even if they can get a flight they’d have to be quarantined for two weeks and they’re both on medication. My dad needs his medication to treat his rheumatoid arthritis.

“I’m living day by day. Since the pandemic I’ve lost my job, I’m having to home school my kids, I don’t know how I’m holding it together. I’m on the verge of a breakdown.

“I’m just desperate to have them home. The waiting makes it worse, it’s a massive frustration especially knowing most of America is on lockdown.

“We’re in touch by email and I’m trying to keep their spirits up but I know they’re anxious. They have made friends on the ship and they keep each other going and at least they’re not confined. But they’re desperate to get back.

“It’s so strange not being able to pop over when they’re just round the corner especially during this worrying time.”

Georgina said the Foreign Commonwealth Office was aware of the situation and said it was doing all it could.

Georgina also called operator Princess Cruises to ask whether there was a contingency plan, should passengers be refused to disembark in Florida, but the company could not give her a definite answer.

Following a request from the Observer a spokesperson for Princess Cruises responded: “Despite continued efforts from several consulates, Anvisa (the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency) has denied the disembarkation of Coral Princess guests, including those with confirmed outbound flights.

“Coral Princess will proceed directly to Ft. Lauderdale, with no foreseen need for additional port calls. There remains no known risk of COVID-19 onboard.

“Both internet and guest stateroom telephone service remain complimentary so that guests can stay in touch with family. In this unprecedented situation, we thank our guests and their loved ones for their continued patience and understanding.

“Princess Cruises will continue to provide updates on Coral Princess in the notices and advisories section of the online newsroom.”

MP Nadhim Zahawi told the Observer he was aware of the situation.

He said: “I have had a number of constituents get in touch with me about this cruise ship and indeed other cases around the world. I am deeply concerned for the welfare of all constituents who are currently abroad and struggling to get home. I have been liaising with the Foreign Office and I am assured they are doing all they can, in difficult and constantly changing circumstances, to get these people home quickly and safely.”

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