Raleigh husband says he was told his March cruise had no COVID-19 cases. He was diagnosed one day after returning

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Lisa and Ted Mayer of Raleigh love to travel. So much in fact, they were booked to take two separate cruises in March on Celebrity Cruises.

"We love cruises," Ted Mayer said. The retired dentist said he and his wife had no reservations about going on a cruise because the lack of positive cases at the destination.

"We left the United States in February and in February there were cases in of course China and Italy," said Ted. "And I think there were a few in the United States reported, but there were none to my recollection in South America."


The couple's Celebrity Silhouette cruise reportedly sailed without incident.

Just before their Celebrity Eclipse cruise from South America to San Diego, the cruise ship line canceled the itinerary and told passengers hotel and airfare accommodations would be taken care of.

However, according to the Mayers, Chilean officials refused to let passengers disembark. The couple told ABC11 they spent nearly a week off the coast of South America before a decision was made to head to San Diego.

The experience, however, was not all bad.

"We actually had a great time on the second cruise," Ted Mayer said. "The food, the dining, the staff -- they were absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed ourselves fully."

While COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise across the world, the Mayers and over 2,000 other passengers sailed the seas; even taking time to give a standing ovation to healthcare workers.

"We were not glued to the TV or the Internet," the Mayers said. "It was a pleasure cruise. We were informed. But, minimally."

Near the end of their second cruise, the Mayers estimate "two-thirds" of passengers began to feel sick.

"We were pretty well reassured that it was coughs, colds, maybe a light flu," Ted recalled. "We thought it was COVID free. If it was virus free, we were actually thinking it was safer out there than we would have been almost anywhere else in the entire world."

When the Mayers returned to Raleigh from San Diego on March 31, they went to the doctor the very next day.

A respiratory doctor diagnosed Ted with COVID-19. They declined to give his wife, Lisa, a test.

Ted told ABC11 doctors figured if he was positive, his wife would be as well. They were told to quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor their symptoms.

In hindsight, the couple said had they known COVID-19 was on their ship, they would have stayed in their rooms and ordered room service, along with wearing masks.

"Less contact, a little more social distancing -- which we did not do," added Ted.

According to the couple, Celebrity Cruises offered a refund of 125 percent of their cruise or credit toward a future cruise.

"We took the refund," Ted said.

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