This is how North Vancouver singer Michelle Joly describes what happened on Saturday morning after 60 days at sea.
” I feel good! ” she says. “Although it is a little cold. “
She and 48 other Canadians and five permanent residents, all employed in the cruise industry, landed in Toronto on Saturday afternoon after being chased from Florida on a charter flight.
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It has been a long ordeal to get to this point.
Joly’s journey began on February 20 with a concert on the Sky Princess in the Caribbean. In mid-March, the cruise industry closed and passengers were unloaded.
However, the cruise staff were not so fortunate as they were ordered to stay on board the ships. There were eight other Canadians with Joly on the Sky Princess at the time.
She says the crew spent the next two weeks entertaining on board.
“We had all kinds of entertainment. In fact, I played for the team every other night. We had group evenings, movie nights, bingo. “
However, self-isolation was imposed when some staff members fell ill, although they tested negative for COVID-19.
Shortly thereafter, it was decided to place Canadians of all cruise ships on one ship – the Emerald. The ship and a dozen others remained in the Caribbean, but were unable to dock.
“Our ship has been anchored outside the Bahamas since about March 15. We sailed a bit, then we went to Fort Lauderdale to refuel, then we came back and dropped anchor, “said Joly.
She says the US Center for Disease Control demanded that everyone on board continue to isolate themselves before being allowed to go home. In total, she spent 38 days confined to her cabin. Fortunately, the crew at that time were assigned to rooms with balconies.
Joly took advantage of this period. “I’m not a big movie buff, but I’ve watched so many movies. I started to learn Spanish. They also had this Sky TV radio that they did every day for the cruise staff. “
She even managed to post a song on Facebook that she sang called “Last Summer Day”.
On May 5, a charter flight was arranged to pick up the Canadians from the Bahamas. The problem was that the ship was not allowed to dock there.
She thanks Princess Cruises and its parent company Carnival for doing what they could to bring people back to their countries of origin.
“Our company was so great. Some things were out of their control. They fed us, they kept us informed. She says the company even paid for the flight and a hotel room in Toronto.
She shivers as she thinks about what would have happened if Saturday’s plans had failed.
“If they couldn’t get the Canadians off the ship, they were sailing to India, because there are about 800 Indian nationals on the ship. “
Global Affairs said that in addition to the flight from Florida, 18 other Canadians and a permanent resident aboard the ship Koningsdam were evacuated from Los Angeles on Friday.
Joly says after a short stay in a hotel room in Toronto, she has to spend her 14-day quarantine at the home of a family member in northern Alberta.
She says that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her career in the cruise industry.
“I love it and it doesn’t change anything because our business was great. Morale was high, ”she said, recognizing that it could take a while before the ships are operational again.
Some 200 Canadian employees are still on 70 cruise ships at sea.