When adventure strikes amid COVID-19 concerns

Wayne and Dianne Crawford visit Iguazú Falls in Brazil as the first stop on their cruise ship, Azamara Pursuit, on March 1, 2020. Courtesy

When Santa Clarita residents Wayne and Dianne Crawford left home Feb. 23 for an “adventure,” they never imagined their paths would be beset by delays, cancellations and a deadly international pandemic.

Going from exploring South America on the Azamara Pursuit cruise ship to not being allowed to dock anywhere, though no one aboard the ship was sick, the coronavirus has greatly changed their ship’s circumstances.

Nearly four weeks later, when they should’ve been home Monday, they’re still a long way away from accomplishing that.

“We’re not through with this adventure, yet,” Dianne said via voice message. “Hopefully, we’ll be home the first week of April.”

The Crawfords journey began “full-speed ahead,” according to Dianne.

“We were having such a great time,” she said, adding that they were traveling with friends that they had met on a cruise 20 years prior, who they had since traveled around the world with.

Dianne and Wayne Crawford and friends Kathy and Angelo Antoci, left to right, on their cruise ship, Azamara Pursuit, near Ushuaia, Argentina, on March 9, 2020. Courtesy

After spending a week at the Iguazú Falls and celebrating Dianne’s birthday in Ushuaia, Argentina, which is considered “the end of the world,” they couldn’t be happier.

On Dianne’s actual birthday, the ship docked in Punta Arenas, Chile, yet the couple decided not to get off, as it was raining very hard.

The very next day, upon sailing through the Chilean fjords and arriving in Puerto Chacabuco, they were told they could not dock, as the Chilean government had closed its borders and ports to any cruise ship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Captain just announced our next stop in Chile (has) also (been) canceled,” Dianne wrote in a Facebook post on March 14. “We are trying to stay positive that in nine days, we will be able to fly home from Lima, Peru.”

So, the ship continued up the coast of South America, along the border of Chile.

Dianne Crawford, second from right, with Capt. Carl Smith, center, on cruise ship, Azamara Pursuit, on March 21, 2020. Courtesy

Once they arrived in Valparaiso on March 17, they were again told they could not disembark, so the ship backtracked to San Antonio, hoping its passengers would be able to be escorted by bus to Santiago Airport, where they could return home. “Well, that didn’t happen.”

That same day, she wrote on Facebook, “The captain is negotiating with every port to not only allow us to get fuel but also food. Not sure what plan B is at this point. Hope to see everyone by mid-April.”

The ship then returned to Valparaiso, floating in their harbor for days as they waited to figure out what their next steps would be.

There, they waited along with another, bigger ship that had arrived two days prior. “We felt really happy that we were on this little ship because we were being taken care of very well and we had great communication — but they were not having that same thing happen over there.”

On Wednesday, they were finally able to get the fuel, 36 pallets of food and all the medication needed — before the other ship nonetheless. Next stop, Miami, where they would be allowed to disembark.

“So, we are now headed to the Panama Canal, which was where the ship’s (next cruise) was going to go after we got off in Lima,” Dianne said. “I’m not sure how long it’ll take us to get through the canal, and then we will arrive in Miami maybe around the 30 or so, as long as things go as planned, but nothing has gone as planned.”

Wayne and Dianne Crawford with pianist Tom Seals, and friends Kathy and Angelo Antoci, left to right, on their cruise ship, Azamara Pursuit, on March 21, 2020. Courtesy

All this while family and friends back home tell them they’re probably in the safest place, having had their temperatures taken daily, with no signs of sickness on board.

Today, the Crawfords were told of another challenge. They may not be able to enter the Panama Canal until Saturday due to traffic and limited water.

“My husband keeps singing, ‘We’ll never return. No, we’ll never return and our fate is still unknown,’” Dianne said, chuckling as she sang a tweaked version of “MTA” by The Kingston Trio. “We’re trying to keep our sense of humor, but I have no idea what’s going to happen … Other than that, we’ve got plenty of toilet paper, food and medication, so we’re doing good.”

Still, the Crawfords remain hopeful, keeping their spirits high, hoping to be home soon.

“It’s been an adventure,” Dianne added. “I mean, we went from, ‘This is the perfect vacation’ to ‘Oh my goodness, are we ever gonna be home?’ … I’m getting sick of my clothes, miss my dog terribly, and my family, of course. It is what it is, and we will always have this as a great memory.”

The Crawford’s dog, Cara, patiently waiting for them back home in Santa Clarita. Courtesy

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