Norfolk

Coronavirus: Cruise ship dancers home after nine weeks stranded

Lauren Carrick and her fiance Joseph Harrison Image copyright Lauren Carrick
Image caption The couple had been performing on the Celebrity Cruises excursion around Florida and Mexico in March

Two cruise ship dancers who were stranded in the Bahamas for nine weeks because of the Covid-19 pandemic have finally been able to return to the UK.

Lauren Carrick, 29, from Taverham, Norfolk, and her fiancé Joseph Harrison, 27, from Hull, were among 950 crew trapped on the ship.

The US Centre for Disease control had stopped the transfer of seafarers to its airports.

But after long negotiations the couple flew home via Miami airport.

Ms Carrick said the cruise liner Celebrity Reflection, which they had been moved to 10 days ago from another ship, docked at Miami and then they were escorted by police to the airport.

Only British citizens were allowed on the flight.

Image copyright Lauren Carrick
Image caption Lauren Carrick and other crew have to wear masks during their time out of their cabins

The flight to Heathrow Airport was delayed for four hours, but eventually arrived at 14:00 BST on Tuesday.

Ms Carrick told BBC Look East: "To get through the front door was amazing and to hug my mum was incredible. I can't put it into words. It feels so nice to be home.

"I'm back in Norwich and Joseph is up in Hull and we will spend two weeks with our family and then we'll move in to a new place."

She said a big thank for "everyone's support" which included people signing an online petition to help bring the couple back.

Image copyright Joseph Harrison
Image caption The couple had to stay in their cabin at least 21 hours a day for 32 days

The engaged couple had been performing on the Celebrity Cruises excursion around Florida and Mexico in March.

Passengers disembarked in Miami, while the ship, with crew on board, was moved to Tampa, then a private island off the Bahamas.

For three weeks they were not allowed out of their cabins, with food and water delivered to their cabin door.

Mr Harrison said: "It was such a relief to be back on UK soil and get in a car and get back home.

"Mum came running out of door screaming tears of happiness - it was nice to see my dog and mum and dad, and there were loads of messages saying welcome home. It's really nice to know that people have been watching our progress.

"We're happy to be where we are now - and we're not going to be on a cruise any time soon.

"I've got two weeks quarantine at home and after that I'll make my way to Lauren.

"We're going to start afresh. It's time to move forward."

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