Woman with ties to Wake County on cruise ship denied entry in Spain amid COVID-19 concern

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- A woman whose family lives in Garner is on board the Costa Luminosa, a cruise ship expected to arrive in Marseille, France, on Thursday. But her family is worried she won't be able to disembark right away after the ship, carrying 1,421 passengers, was denied entry into Spain amid the coronavirus concerns.

"I very rarely cry, but I kind of lost hope today, over if we're going to get off," said Kristen Stich, who lives in San Francisco and is on board the ship. Her family lives in Garner. "I just feel like we're left here to float in the Mediterranean."

"I want to know what are they doing next," said her daughter-in-law Maddie Hobart, of Garner. "How are they going to get U.S. citizens home?"

All passengers are isolated in their cabins after three people who were on the ship tested positive for COVID-19. One of them died. The other two are in a hospital. Three more passengers had symptoms and disembarked.

Passenger Sam Cheung, of San Francisco, said he's exercising in his room and trying to stay busy. The cruise line said all passengers are getting room service three times a day.

"I'm lonely," Cheung said, talking to ABC11 via phone from the ship. "No one I can talk to. This really bothers me."

Passengers hope they'll be able to disembark soon.

"I'm very concerned but there's nothing we can do," Cheung said.

The cruise line said the health situation on board is now under control with guests getting temperature checks every day.

"Our priority is to bring our guests safely home and our teams are focused on this goal in a situation which is evolving very rapidly," the cruise line said in a statement.

Stich just wants to return home to America.

"I always trusted that my government, the United States, would take care of us," she said. "Through the whole trip, I've been fine until now. I don't trust what's happening anymore."

"I'd like to see my whole family and just hug them, that's it," she said.

The cruise line company said the French government has issued new restrictions in the country and that they're monitoring the situation. They're still working out disembarking details with authorities.

Statement from Costa Cruises, Costa Crociere

"On Monday evening, in an effort to contain the heath emergency on its territory, the French Government has issued new restrictions in the country. Costa Crociere is monitoring the evolution of the situation and is in contact with local authorities to monitor the application of the new protocol for the arrival of the ship in port and the following disembarkation procedures. Our priority is to bring our guests safely home and our teams are focused on this goal in a situation which is evolving very rapidly.

Currently, guests are all in balcony cabins with room service organized for all of them three times a day. Temperature checks are performed on a daily basis to for guests and crew members, to monitor the overall health situation on board. At the moment the health situation on board is under control, with no need for medical disembarkations.

The health and safety of our guests and crew members are our number one priority."
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