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WEEKS AT SEA: South Portland couple's 'retirement trip and the fulfillment of a lifetime dream' has turned into a coronavirus related nightmare

Jeanne and Lloyd Crocker left in early March for a family vacation for the ages. But now, because of the coronavirus, COVID-19, they have been stuck at sea

FLORIDA, USA — Editor's note: You are hearing the term 'flattening the curve' as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. 

Jeanne and Lloyd Crocker have more than 80 years of combined service to the world of education in Maine. Jeanne is likely connected to 25 percent of those currently working in Maine education. 

At the end of their service to Maine, the Crockers are on what Jeannie calls, "both our retirement trip and the fulfillment of a lifetime dream...to travel in South America."

That lifetime dream has turned into a real-life nightmare. 

Jeanne, Lloyd, and their children have been stuck on the Holland America Zaandam, and now the Rotterdam for weeks due to the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jeanne told NEWS CENTER Maine's Lee Goldberg the family has been quarantined to their rooms for more than a week while they wait to be accepted into any port. 

"This two-week cruise on the Holland America Zaandam was scheduled to leave from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and finish in Santiago, Chile, on March 21," Jeannie said. 

Credit: NCM

Mid-March, the trip went rapidly downhill. 

"We were denied entry into Chile due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16 and have remained at sea since that time," said Jeanne. "As far as we knew, we were on a healthy ship until March 22 when we were informed that there was a spike in respiratory illness, and all guests were confined to their cabins."

Since that time, officials have transferred the Crockers to the Rotterdam, a second Holland America, to help with the rapidly worsening situation. 

Jeannie said the family is now quarantined in their rooms, and three meals a day are left at their doors. 

According to the Associated Press, dozens of cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

About 200 people onboard the Zaandam fell ill with the flu-like symptoms, according to the USA Today. Four people died, with two of them testing positive for COVID-19 coronavirus. Overall, eight Zaandam passengers have tested positive for COVID-19, coronavirus.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that while he would be willing to allow Floridians to disembark, he was waiting to find another solution for the rest of the passengers. 

"My concern is that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge, we wouldn't want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship(s)," DeSantis said. 

President Trump spoke about the situation Tuesday saying, "They're dying on the ship. I'm going to do what's right. Not only for us but for humanity."

Jeannie Crocker echoed President Trump's sentiments.

"We hope that South Florida will show the compassion needed during this humanitarian crisis."

Social Distancing Video

Jeannie Crocker's Full Message to NEWS CENTER Maine's Lee Goldberg

"As a family we have always prioritized travel over other things such as a bigger house or a fancier car, wanting to see the world.  Even as the "kids" have become adults, the tradition is alive and well.  

I was a world language major in college, studying abroad in Paris and in Mexico. Then as a Spanish and French teacher at South Portland High School, I initiated student travel trips. 

This family trip is both our retirement trip and the fulfillment of a lifetime dream...to travel in South America!

This two-week cruise on the Holland America Zaandam was scheduled to leave from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and finish in Santiago, Chile, on March 21. 

About one-third of our fellow passengers were booked through to Ft. Lauderdale. 

We were denied entry into Chile due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16 and have remained at sea since that time. 

As far as we knew, we were on a healthy ship until March 22 when we were informed that there was a spike in respiratory illness and all guests were confined to their cabins. 

On Friday, March 27, we rendezvoused with the Rotterdam which was dispatched to provide assistance to the Zaandam. 

We were among the first 64 passengers who were transferred to the Rotterdam after passing a health screening. 

Over three days, approximately 800 of the roughly 1200 Zaandam passengers were transferred to the Rotterdam. 

We remain quarantined on the Rotterdam, receiving three meals a day left at our door. 

Both ships are headed toward Ft. Lauderdale where we hope to be allowed to disembark so that healthy people may return home and those who are ill can receive essential medical care. 

We hope that south Florida will show the compassion needed during this humanitarian crisis."

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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