FARMINGTON – A Farmington family is uncertain when they will see their son and new daughter-in-law again after the Grand Princess cruise ship was quarantined off the coast of California. Twenty-one passengers and crew members on board the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sean Boyles is a Farmington High School graduate who now lives in Albuquerque, where he works as a flight paramedic. He and his wife, Heather Boyles, left for their honeymoon on the Grand Princess in February. Grand Princess Capt. John Smith on Sunday told passengers the ship is headed to the port of Oakland, California, though they were destined to stay aboard the ship for at least another day.
Princess Cruises says it’s expected to arrive Monday. The ship is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries.
At first, the cruise went well, according to Sean Boyles’ mother, Susan Boyles of Farmington. Sean and Heather Boyles traveled from San Francisco to Hawaii, where the ship docked at four ports.
“The whole thing was just going perfectly until they left Hawaii,” Susan Boyles said.
At that time, they learned that some of the passengers on the ship who had been on a previous voyage, as well as some of the crew members, may have been in contact with people who had the coronavirus.
The cruise line changed its plans. Instead of heading to Ensenada, Mexico, for a day, the Grand Princess returned to California. It arrived off the California coast March 5 but was not been allowed to dock. A helicopter took 49 test kits to the ship, and 21 people on board – including 19 crew members – tested positive.
Health officials believe the people on board the ship who have tested positive for coronavirus may have had contact with a 71-year-old passenger who had previously been on the ship and later died from the virus, according to USA Today.
Each passenger will be tested when they disembark.
Passengers who need medical treatment or hospitalization will go to health care facilities in California, while state residents who don’t require acute medical care “will go to a federally run isolation facility within California for testing and isolation,” the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said in a statement Sunday. The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, the statement said.
“I’m not worried about them catching it,” Susan Boyles said. “They’re young. They’re healthy.”
Sean Boyles graduated from Farmington High School in 2003.
What is frustrating Susan Boyles is not knowing when her son and daughter-in-law will be allowed to return.
She said Princess Cruises has been wonderful to work with and provided regular updates to the passengers. However, the ship’s captain hasn’t been provided much information about when the passengers may be able to disembark.
Sean and Heather Boyles were scheduled to disembark in San Francisco on March 6 and had hoped to spend a few days there before flying back to Albuquerque on March 9. Now Susan Boyles does not know when they will be allowed off the ship, or what will happen after that.
“That, for me as a parent, is the most frustrating thing,” she said.
Susan Boyles said her son and daughter-in-law are fortunate. They have a small suite with a balcony so they can go outside and get fresh air despite being confined to their rooms. She said the people she really feels sorry for are the ones in small interior cabins.
There have not been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Mexico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report