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“Hell” for Aussies aboard cruise ship stranded off South America

“Hell” for Aussies aboard cruise ship stranded off South America

Sue and Mort Leburn from the Gold Coast were two of the 129 other Australians on board the virus riddled Zaandam cruise ship which is currently isolated in waters off South America.

Over 150 of their fellow travellers are showing flu-like symptoms but the ship was denied docking at several points.

It wasn’t until Monday that they were taken off the plagued ship, which has seen four deaths from COVID-19, and transferred to its sister ship the MS Rotterdam.

Mr Leburn is undergoing cancer treatment but aside from that the couple are in good health and not experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus.

However, they feel unsupported and forgotten due to the lack of information being given by the Australian Government.

“We’ve been in strict isolation since 22nd March. We’ve been outside once for half an hour [and] we only open our cabin door for meals three times a day,” they told 9News.

“Other than that we don’t have any contact with other people apart from through social media or our friends that are on the boat that we can ring up.

“We haven’t had a great deal of advice from the government, we’ve looked on the smart traveler website and contacted our state and federal MPs who sent us replies but they have been fairly generic,” said Ms Elburn.

Their son Colin waved them goodbye a month ago from Queensland, and doesn't know when he'll get to see his parents again.

He says they had already encountered difficulties as they tried to come from Chile.

“They were supposed to dock somewhere in Chile. But the Chilean Government denied them after they had gone out of their way to get there,” he said.

“Then they were told midnight, then midnight came and [they were told] no you can’t dock.”

The current plan for those aboard the Rotterdam is to disembark in the United States.

But Colin is anxious about the roadblocks his parents may encounter in their attempt to return home.

"They keep getting hand-balled around from person to person and when you're on board a boat with extremely slow internet and limited access that's the other thing... you can't just pick up the phone and call people," he said.

"I think what it comes down to is communication, and Mum and Dad just want to communicate with our Government to find out what's happening and are they going to be able to come home.

"We're really lucky they've been given safe passage through the Panama canal so that was the next thing I was really worried about for Mum and Dad that they were going to get denied access.

"Now we don't know what's going to happen once they get to America."It is understood passengers who were showing signs of COVID-19 remain on the Zaandam cruise ship which Colin described as a "floating coffin".

"I feel for the poor people that are left aboard the Zaandam because there on a floating coffin basically and the Government is doing nothing to help them," Colin Elburn said.