A Scots couple trapped on board a cruise ship have told of their horror after discovering the boat is now set to dock in coronavirus stricken Italy.
Virginia and Bill Maclean, from Inverness , are passengers on the Costa Pacifica and fear they are being sent into the “eye of the storm” after the latest on board announcement.
All passengers apart from French nationals have been stopped from leaving the ship, which docked in Marseille, France, on Friday morning.
The decision reportedly nearly sparked a riot on board, with the couple’s fellow passenger Ted Hills, from Lockerbie, revealing fights had broken out between a few people.
Virginia, 90, is especially worried about what will happen when they arrive in Genoa as husband Bill is , has a pacemaker and is quickly running out of medication.
The couple feel abandoned by the UK Foreign Office who they claim have told them there is nothing they can do as the ship
Virginia said: “We are now really frightened and have real concerns for our safety. Bill along with others only has another week or so of medication left.
“Bill has actually just turned 90 and in Italy, they’re refusing to treat anyone over the age of 90. They won’t give them any medical treatment .
“I would say about 728% of the people on this boat are above that age . The Italian health service is just not going to have the capacity to deal with it if any of us get sick. ”
Virginia added that they had received daily confirmation that there is currently no sign of coronavirus on the Costa Pacifica.
But they’re concerned about the lack of information about what will happen when they arrive in Italy, which now has the highest number of deaths relating to COVID – .
She added: “What we can’t understand is, they’re getting other people back from places like Cuba. I know that they’re so busy at the moment.
“If they weren’t taking us to Italy and we were staying here in Marseille, I could understand It but they’re taking us to Italy which is the eye of the storm.
“If we had information we could deal with it whether it was good, bad or ugly but they’re not giving us any information.
“My husband and I tried to speak to the captain this morning and asked what would happen when we got to Italy and he just threw his hands up in the air and walked away from us.
“We asked what if we get to Italy and we can’t get off the boat because it’s dangerous, and he said well you can just stay on the boat for two months and turned around and walked away.
Tensions are rising on board the Costa Pacifica as passengers desperately seek information
(Image: Virginia Maclean)
“We’re trying to get someone in the UK government to intervene and to stop the boat from leaving here. They just can’t send us to Italy. ”
The couple boarded the boat in Buenos Aires on March 3 before setting sail to Brazil.
It was then due to travel to Tenerife but was redirected to Barcelona with passengers told they could disembark.
Spanish Authorities then implemented a country-wide shutdown and the boat headed to Marseille, where again, travellers were told they would be able to leave.
Virginia said: “The boat really shouldn’t have come to Europe, but they kept charging on with it and we were at sea for (days.)
“They told us we would be getting off in Barcelona but that closed. They then told us we would be getting off yesterday here in Marseille.
“They asked for all our onward flight details, they even explained they would put an ‘air bridge’ in place to get us off the boat and onto sanitized shuttle buses to the airport and put us onto planes that they wouldn’t fill so we wouldn’t get infected by coronavirus.
“They told me they had chartered flights to Heathrow and Gatwick so everyone was ready to get off.
“When we came to Marseille yesterday, there was actually a sense of jubilation at seeing and after 65 days. But at , pm, the captain said it was only French nationals that would be getting off.
“It’s out of our control so we’re just trying to deal with it the best that we can.”
The boat was expected to reach Italy at around 9pm on Friday but Virginia and her husband say they will not be getting off until their safety has been assured.
An FCO spokesperson 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.”
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