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UK travellers on quarantined cruise ship have ‘no idea’ when they can come home

Although the ship is due to dock in California, only passengers requiring treatment and state residents will be allowed to disembark.

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British couples including Justine and Dave Griffin are stranded on the cruise ship (Justine Griffin/PA)

British couples including Justine and Dave Griffin are stranded on the cruise ship (Justine Griffin/PA)

British couples including Justine and Dave Griffin are stranded on the cruise ship (Justine Griffin/PA)

A group of British travellers quarantined on the Grand Princess cruise ship said they have no idea when they will be able to return to the UK.

Although the ship is due to dock in Oakland, California, on Monday, only passengers requiring treatment and state residents will be allowed to disembark.

It is not known what will happen to passengers from other countries.

Justine Griffin, from Coventry but living in Leicestershire, was travelling on the ship with her husband Dave and friends Jan and Allen Duffin, and Sharon and Steve Lane, when it was placed into quarantine.

Virus Outbreak California
The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

The couple renewed their vows on board for their 25th wedding anniversary.

Mrs Griffin told the PA news agency: “We won’t be getting off tomorrow as we are at the bottom of the list. First the sick then Californians, then any other Americans. They have no plans for international passengers yet — rumours going round about Texas but nothing concrete yet.”

The couple have not been tested for the coronavirus but believe they will have to enter quarantine in the UK for a further two weeks when they return home.

“The longer it takes to get us to England the longer we’re away from our family. We both have medical appointments to attend, and Dave is having a shoulder replacement operation.

The couples have gone from enjoying their cruise to being told they cannot leave their rooms. (Justine Griffin/PA)

“I’ve just got in contact with our MP back in England to try and see what’s happening. We have been told nothing from the English government or embassy. The international number my sister contacted back home said they would call back in eight hours — that was two days ago.

“I had to tell my youngest child I’m not coming home and I don’t know when I will be. He was so upset — he’s only eight and we’re his special guardians so he doesn’t deal well with things changing, it’s heart-breaking.”

She said an announcement came while the couples were on deck, that the Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases of Covid-19 that had resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.

She said: “It came over the ship sound system and we were given an hour to get lunch, which was like a cattle market, and then get back to our cabins.

“It is very scary but angry as well. We were going to Singapore and Thailand and Bali on a cruise but it was cancelled the week before we were due to go. This cruise was the only one we could get that would work out with work and childcare arrangements.

“They quarantined the other people who had been on the overlapping cruise the day before us in their rooms so they should have told us then so we could have quarantined ourselves sooner. I have rheumatoid arthritis and take immuno-suppressant drugs, so I’m waiting to hear if I can still take them.”

The couple are in a room next to two of their friends, Mr and Mrs Lane, so they are able to speak across the balcony divider.

Both women are self-employed and Mrs Griffin said: “If we don’t work, we don’t get paid.”

The ship is operated by Princess Cruises, who also own the Diamond Princess, which was placed into quarantine in Japan last month.

PA