Some Oklahomans arrive home, others stuck on cruise ships in wake of COVID-19 outbreak


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Some Oklahoma families have made it home while others are still stuck on their cruise ships in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Numerous Oklahomans were aboard the Grand Princess as it floated aimlessly in the sea for days with nowhere to dock. Those families on that ship are now home but in quarantine.

Other passengers like Frank Crawford haven’t been as lucky.

Crawford said he and his wife took what was supposed to be a 32nd-anniversary cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse around South America.

Instead, they got a surprise when they went to dock in Chile and the anchors were brought back up.

“Chile had closed its port borders and we’re not going to be able to dock there right now like we were supposed to,” he said.

The country denied them access, citing concerns about the coronavirus being on the ship, although Crawford said they were told there were no cases on the ship.

“We could be getting to the point where we might have some issues fairly quickly unless this gets resolved,” Crawford said.

The next move to the passengers was uncertain.

Crawford said the crew was only giving them vague details that they were going to negotiate with the Chilean government or go somewhere else.

“We’re just in the dark right now,” he said.

The boat has been floating in circles just off the coast of Chile for a couple of days.

According to Crawford, it’s not too bad being stuck on a cruise ship, but he can sense the tension between passengers and feels they need help quickly, in fear of running out of supplies.

“Somebody’s got to let us in or we’re going to run out of fuel and we’re going to run out of food,” Crawford said.

Back home in El Reno, Maribeth and David VonTungeln are back on their couch, comfortable once again.

“We’re blessed we’re well taken care of,” Maribeth VonTungeln said.

They spent time on the Grand Princess ship that docked in Oakland.

Before reaching port, it was a long several days after 28 cases of the coronavirus struck the ship dating back to past cruises.

She and her husband would spend 7 days in their cabins waiting to leave the ship.

“It was a strange feeling, you know, you had to wait for people to tell you what to do where to go sometimes,” VonTungeln said.

After getting off the boat, they went to Fort Dobbins in Georgia where they were quarantined until being released to come back to Oklahoma.

They found messages left on their door from their neighbors and said they were thankful for every person that cared for them along the way.

“They all did everything they could to make us as comfortable, and to make it as pleasant ordeal as possible,” said David VonTungeln.

The VonTungeln’s said they will be in quarantine until March 26.

According to Crawford, he isn’t sure when he will be able to step foot off the Celebrity Eclipse.

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