An elderly Kiwi couple who were forced to disembark a cruise ship in Italy, in what they feared would be a “death sentence”, have made it back to New Zealand safely.
John Trotman, 80, and Pat Trotman, 75, first appeared on 1 NEWS last month and made a desperate plea for help, saying the cruise company had given them no choice but to make the dangerous journey.
With hundreds of Italians dying every day, the couple were terrified they would catch the virus, but they have since managed to fly home through Rome, Doha and then Auckland.
Speaking from the comfort of their place in Whangarei, the couple were thrilled to be back.
“When we heard one lady, she said 'welcome home’, and I just said, ‘thank God for that,” Mrs Trotman said.
“There was cheering, cheering, people were so glad to come back to New Zealand,” Mr Trotman added.
The couple had been on a three week transatlantic cruise aboard the Costa Pacifica, but the final leg was cancelled when the virus began to spread, with the company docking in their home country of Italy.
From there, the thousands of passengers were forced to disembark at Italian cities, with the Trotmans taken to a hotel in Rome and told to wait for flights. They were promised the room would be sanitised but arrived to find old tissues and make-up left behind.
It was then on to the airport at Rome in a bus that was also dirty and many hours in a plane home.
“We talked between the two of us and said, ‘if we go off this ship we may die, if we stay on the ship, we're going to die’,” Mr Trotman said.
“It would be a little bit like a normal person having to say if I walk one more step I'm going to fall off the cliff, but if I don't take that step, the person behind is going to push me, what do I do?”
They now have a nervous two week wait to see if they'll fall ill.
“We do have that worry, that we may have that virus,” Mr Trotman.
“If we have the virus, we're still together, we know we've got a good health system over here in New Zealand.”
The couple are sending thanks to everyone who helped, include the New Zealand consulate in Rome, are say they are more than happy to spend the appropriate time in quarantine.
Their adventures proving there really is no place like home.