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Pair stuck on cruise ship at Italian port amid coronavirus confusion

By Sue Austin | Shrewsbury | Coronavirus | Published: | Last Updated:

A Shropshire pensioner and her stepson are trapped on board a cruise ship in an Italian port.

Carole Brenkley and her stepson Mark have been stuck on a cruise ship which has docked at an Italian port

Carole Brenkley from Jackfield and Mark Brenkley from Halfway House say their three-week long holiday has turned into a nightmare.

Their ship, the Costa Pacifica, was due to end its cruise in Barcelona.

But Spain has closed its borders and the liner has been forced instead to go to Genoa in Italy where its parent company is based.

Now the Brenkleys, along with other British passengers, want assurances that if they leave the ship it will be straight to a waiting plane to bring them home.

All coronavirus-free passengers fear that if they disembark in Italy, Europe's Covid-19 hotspot, they could become its next victims.

An empty street in Fondi, near Rome, Italy, as the country reels from the coronavirus outbreak

The Costa Pacifica is moored next to a hospital ship which they say is full of patients suffering from the virus.

Mrs Brenkley, who left her Jackfield home still with its garden under water from the floods, said it was extremely worrying.

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The anxiety, she said, was made worse because the passengers were getting no updates from the captain or officers.

Mark started accompanying his stepmother on cruises after the death of his father five years ago.

Their latest cruise began in Argentina and they had been having a wonderful holiday until they were refused entry to Tenerife.

"We then sailed to Marseilles in France and were told were wouldn't be allowed to dock," Mrs Brenkley said.

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"The captain told the port authorities we had no water on board so we were allowed in and then they agreed to allow the French passengers to get off," she said.

Buildings and La Sagrada Familia basilica illuminated at night in Barcelona lifting spirits during the outbreak

"The cruise was supposed to end in Barcelona on Saturday but the only place that would have us was Italy because the company headquarters is there."

She said there were about 500-600 UK passengers on board, along with others from South America, South Africa and other countries. And she said anxiety and tempers were rising.

"An altercation broke out a couple of days ago during a meeting of passengers because no-one was telling us anything. It is very worrying. We can't fault the staff, they have been amazing. But the captain and officers have told us nothing.

"We are appealing to our MPs and the Foreign Office to help us. We don't want to get off the ship and be left to our own devices. We want to be sure that we will be taken straight to a plane. And we certainly don't want to go to Milan."

Mark said: "We are moored right next to a hospital ship which is full of coronavirus victims. It is so distressing to see. "

An Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are doing all we can to help British people on board the Costa Pacifica cruise ship.

“Our staff are in close contact with the cruise operator and the authorities in the region to ensure British people can get home safely.”

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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