Woman stuck on cruise ship in Europe recovers from COVID-19 in North Carolina

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- What started as a dream cruise turned into a nightmare for Kristen Stich, who lives in San Francisco and has family in Garner, North Carolina.

Stich tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago, after a cruise on the Costa Luminosa.

THE LATEST: COVID-19 updates in North Carolina

"Emotionally, it's been pretty rough," Stich said via Zoom from her friend's home in North Carolina, where she is recovering. Her friend was on the cruise with her and also tested positive for the virus.

Other Costa Luminosa passengers on a Facebook page have said they, too, tested positive for COVID-19 after they returned.

"It was bad and I did have a headache," Stich said, but added that her symptoms were not as bad as some are experiencing.

"I would say not severe," Stich said. "I had a sore throat, shortness of breath. I did get a temperature."

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ABC11 first talked to Stich when she was on the ship a month ago.

At that point, three people on board had tested positive for COVID-19. One passenger died.

The more than 1,400 passengers were isolated in their cabins and the ship was turned away from a port in Spain. Passengers finally disembarked in France.

Stich has not been able to see her five boys for weeks.

"Horrible, absolutely horrible," she said. "That's the first thing I wanted to do."

Stich said she can't wait to get back to Garner and spend time with her family.

"That'll be my happiest moment when I get to see my family," she said.

Stich said she's trying to get tested again to make sure she's fully recovered. But she said she's faced difficulties getting another test.

Costa Crociere, the cruise line, sent this statement:

"Costa Luminosa arrived in Marseille on March 19 and in Savona on the 21st, where guests and crew have been disembarked following a strategic plan and procedures jointly evaluated and agreed upon with the Italian authorities and the relevant Maritime Health Authorities. All the above mentioned procedures, including the medical assistance and testing for Covid19, were performed by the Health and public local authorities in coordination with Italian Civil Protection (Protezione Civile). The ship is currently moored in Savona with a minimum safe manning crew, undergoing sanitation. All Guests received a compensation for the ports of call not performed in strict compliance with the applicable legislation."

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