At least 30 cruise ships are at sea. Here’s what it is like on board.

(CNN) — Texan newlyweds Jay and Carmen Martinez went straight from celebrating their beachside wedding ceremony to embarking on a globe-trotting honeymoon cruise throughout the South Pacific on board the Norwegian Jewel.

Ahead of the February 28 departure date in Australia, the couple had nervous in regards to the unfold of coronavirus however did not have the choice to cancel the 23-day journey they’d booked two years earlier.

Now they’re amongst 1000’s of passengers nonetheless at sea aboard greater than 30 oceangoing cruise ships, some nonetheless looking for a port that may settle for them amid a world shutdown of the cruise trade and mounting fears of an infection.

The Norwegian Jewel is believed to be heading for Hawaii, however there isn’t any official phrase on its ultimate vacation spot and the ship has already been turned away from a number of ports.

“We had hesitations,” Jay Martinez tells CNN Travel about their preboarding apprehension. The couple appeared into amending their plans however have been advised they have been locked in.

“Up until the day that we left, that was not an option,” says Jay, “And with us having so much money invested into our honeymoon, we had no other choice but to board the ship.”

The couple feared their itinerary may be curtailed, however they by no means anticipated that they’d find yourself stranded at sea, their ship scrambling for a spot to dock.

Escalating scenario

The Norwegian Jewel is on course for Hawaii.

The Norwegian Jewel is heading in the right direction for Hawaii.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Image

They’re not the one ones.

As coronavirus outbreaks troubled quite a few ships on at sea, the Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, made the choice on March 13 to droop operations from US ports of name for 30 days.

CLIA encompasses 38 cruise firms, making up greater than 95% of world cruise capability — a complete of 277 ships.

“A handful of ships — about 14% of the total CLIA fleet — are currently at sea completing their journeys,” the group mentioned in a press release to CNN. “Our members are focused on bringing these ships safely back to port as soon as they can.”

Among the 30 or so nonetheless at sea, Norwegian Jewel is heading towards Honolulu, Hawaii, however nobody’s fairly positive whether or not it’s going to be allowed to dock there.

Right from the outset, it was clear some ports have been closed and a few plans must be modified, says Jay Martinez.

The scenario escalated dramatically a few week in the past when CLIA recalled its ships, and French Polynesia turned the Norwegian Jewel away.

At first, the ship deliberate to go to Fiji as an alternative and disembark there, however this plan was deserted en route when the island nation mentioned the cruise liner wouldn’t be accepted. New Zealand adopted go well with.

The ship was subsequently allowed to refuel in American Samoa. “And that is when we started our long journey to Hawaii,” says Jay.

Cruise operator Norwegian has but to provide official affirmation of the ship’s ultimate vacation spot. In response to a question from CNN, a spokesperson confirmed {that a} plan to dock in New Zealand had been scrapped. “We will share an update as it becomes available,” they mentioned.


Jay and Carmen Martinez obtained married a month in the past. Their cruise honeymoon has taken a difficult flip.

Courtesy Jay Martinez

On board, Jay says visitors have been driving waves of emotion — aid when listening to of an imminent vacation spot adopted by disappointment when the plans have been deserted.

So far everybody on board the Norwegian Jewel is nicely, with no circumstances of coronavirus or quarantined passengers.

Still, Jay says visitors are involved and extremely anxious, with tensions rising because the ship’s trajectory grew to become more and more unsure.

Everyone’s conscious, he says, that there is a actual chance that this might proceed for days or perhaps weeks.

There are worries about remedy operating out, the well being of mates, households and livelihoods again residence.

Pacific princess

On the opposite aspect of the Pacific ocean, 76-year-old Ron Ernst has been enjoying a ready recreation on board the Pacific Princess, a 338-cabin cruise liner with capability for 670 visitors.

Ron and his spouse, Susie, boarded the ship on January 20 in Los Angeles. The retired Californian couple have loved greater than 25 cruises, together with three round-the-world voyages.

They left US shores prepared for one more world journey, embarking on their 111-day cruise odyssey barely conscious of the mounting coronavirus risk.

“I am sure we had heard about some virus in China, but we had no concerns,” says Ron.

It was towards the tip of February that they grew to become conscious the virus would possibly influence their itinerary.

The ship skipped calls on the Indonesian island of Bali, Singapore and the Thai resort of Phuket. Passengers have been additionally banned from exiting the ship in Sri Lanka.

Like the Norwegian Jewel, the Pacific Princess is wholesome — with no circumstances of coronavirus — however has nonetheless been driving a tide of uncertainty.

“The second night after Sri Lanka, the captain made the shocking announcement that, in view of the developing and quickly changing conditions, the cruise would terminate in Fremantle/Perth,” says Ron. “We quickly realized that things were getting serious.”

The ship made an 180-degree flip in the midst of the evening, and started the 18 day sail again to Australia.

It lastly arrived Saturday morning native time.

“Life on the ship continued with great food, entertainment and lots of socializing,” says Ron.

“We were healthy and comfortable as long we are in our safe cocoon. Not everyone is looking forward to getting back to the world.”

Ron Ernst, stranded cruise ship passenger

“The crew is absolutely fantastic. Their future is completely uncertain, but they are not letting it show. Princess has done an amazing job especially considering these unprecedented conditions.”

On board the Pacific Princess, Ron Ernst says passenger moods fluctuated. It was largely worry of the unknown that involved them.

In truth, some have been dreading returning to a actuality that is turn into removed from “normal.”

“We were healthy and comfortable as long we are in our safe cocoon,” says Ron. “Not everyone is looking forward to getting back to the world.”

Also on board the Pacific Princess was CJ Hayden, 63, an writer and enterprise coach primarily based in San Francisco.

Hayden, touring with companion Dave Herninko, advised CNN earlier this week that she simply hopes to get residence ASAP, in case additional journey restrictions are put into place.

“Our biggest concern now is whether we can still get home to North America before airports, cities, or even borders are closed,” she mentioned. “The ship can’t go any faster.”

There have been 547 passengers on board, and 448 are American. Princess Cruises says it has made flight preparations for every passenger, and paid for air fare.

Anyone unable to fly due to medical causes will keep on the ship because it sails on to Los Angeles.

Australia had beforehand introduced it was closing its ports to cruise ship passengers. Hayden says Pacific Princess passengers have been granted permission to disembark on the understanding they head to the airport straight away.

Those not booked on flights on March 21 will keep on board till their flight is able to depart the subsequent day.

“Almost all the passengers are seniors, with many in their 70s and 80s, and quite a few with disabilities,” mentioned Hayden earlier within the week.

“Some folks are bearing up well; others are freaking out,” she mentioned.

Like Ron, Hayden mentioned “uncertainty” was the toughest factor to cope with.

Staying related

Jay-Martinez-cruise 3

Jay Martinez captured this shot on board the Norwegian Jewel.

Courtesy Jay Martinez

On board the Norwegian Jewel, Jay, who works in public affairs, is making an attempt to maintain busy by remote-working from the ocean.

Carmen, who works in illness prevention, is not in a position to telework. As among the youthful and extra tech-savvy visitors, each try to help older passengers.

“[We are] helping out, getting in touch with family members that are having trouble connecting via internet or phone with those that are on this ship,” says Jay.

He praises crew members additionally caught on board and uncertain of the long run, highlighting their “phenomenal job of cleanliness and sanitary efforts” — and their constant generosity and understanding.

“There’s a lot of frustrated people, and it’s quite unfortunate that they get the brunt of the effects of what the corporate cruise line’s shortcomings are, because they’ve just done a great job,” says Jay.

Uncertain instances

Right now, these on board the Norwegian Jewel are crossing their fingers that they will be allowed to disembark in Hawaii on Sunday, however Jay says they’ve acquired no clear details about how they will be getting residence from the island.

“That uncertainty and that unknown and ambiguity of what our fate is going to be I think is the hardest thing to stomach,” he says.

Much of the journey trade has been hit exhausting by the coronavirus pandemic — hoteliers are shedding employees, airways are interesting for presidency bailouts and cruise ships are hitting the headlines for all of the flawed causes.

So would Jay and Carmen Martinez ever get on board a cruise once more?

Jay’s diplomatic — nobody fairly is aware of what the journey panorama goes to appear like in six months or a yr, he says. Plus, he hopes the cruise traces will put in new practices to cope with conditions like this one.

Jay-Martinez-cruise 2

Jay captured this wonderful shot of a mid-Pacific-ocean sundown.

Courtesy Jay Martinez

“I wouldn’t say that it has ruled it out for us in the future,” he considers. “I feel it is a dialogue we will must have after we arrive residence and the mud has settled all through all of this.

“So much will be dependent on how this continues to unfold and what will be the cruise line’s response after their 30 day pause, in relation to this outbreak.”

And regardless of being caught at sea and uncertain of once they’ll see dry land once more, there have been joyous moments on board.

After all, Jay and Carmen have been celebrating their honeymoon. Thursday was their one month anniversary.

“This has been a cruise and a vacation and a honeymoon like no other, and for great reasons and for terrible reasons,” says Jay.

“This has been a cruise and a vacation and a honeymoon like no other, and for great reasons and for terrible reasons.”

Jay Martinez, stranded cruise ship passenger

They’re having fun with the on-board camaraderie, everybody’s come collectively each regardless of, and due to, the troublesome circumstances.

“We’re very much bonded together, I think that we find solace in one another by finding humor in our situation, and conveying concerns from our various countries and sharing that news,” says Jay.

CJ Hayden shares comparable tales from the Pacific Princess.

“Some of us have been helping each other learn new skills,” she mentioned. “Two volunteers have been helping me and others learn watercolor painting. Another passenger has been teaching my husband how to use the gym equipment. We’ve taught several folks how to play chickenfoot dominoes.”

The reminiscence that may stick together with her, she says, is when the ship stopped in Sri Lanka to refuel.

“On the pier next to the ship were soldiers with guns and dogs, and workers unloading supplies wearing masks and gloves. At 10 a.m., the passenger chorus gathered on the pool deck and belted out ‘Put on a Happy Face.’ “

Jay says he is happy with the best way passengers and crew have collaborated within the face of uncertainty.

“It’s a beautiful thing, because I feel at times our world is very separated,” he continues.

“It’s nice to really feel like we are able to take a stance on this pandemic as a world initiative, and I feel that we now have our personal little minicommunity that represents simply that — that we’re wanting our for each other.

We are involved about one another’s wellbeing and we need to be sure that everybody will get residence, not only one nationality.”

CNN’s Eric Cheung and Carly Walsh contributed to this report

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