Coronavirus: Lethbridge man trapped at sea returns home

Evan Herbert, 28, is back in Lethbridge this week after being trapped at sea on the Emerald Princess cruise ship for more than 50 days due to COVID-19 restrictions.

He, along with hundreds of other staff, was transferred from working on the Holland America cruise line to quarantining on the ship after American Centers for Disease Control issued a no-sail order on March 14.

“After March 15, we were sent out to sea,” Herbert said Monday. “And we were anchored in the same place for 56 days.”

He said living isolated in cramped staff dorms was like prison.

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“They’re telling you when you can eat, when you can go breathe some fresh air and see the sunlight,” Herbert explained.

He said he is happy to finally be home but is deeply concerned for the thousands of cruise ship crew members still trapped at sea with no way out and resources dwindling.

“All we could see was water. There was no land, no place we could go get groceries,” Herbert said.

“A lot of people ran out of medicine.”

After weeks of receiving temperature checks twice a day and following strict distancing orders, he said that his first time back on land was surreal.

“I’m just looking over my shoulder for security, making sure I’m six feet apart from the next person with me,” he said.

He said people in communities like Lethbridge may not realize the seriousness of COVID-19 because they haven’t seen it firsthand.

“It is real and I’ve seen it,” he said. “I’ve seen it in my friends and my colleagues. So it’s real. It’s not a joke.”

Despite everything he has been through, Herbert said he is excited to return to life at sea and for his mandatory 14-day quarantine to be over.

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