Memphian stranded at sea while on a cruise; countries turning ship away

WATCH: Memphian is stranded at sea while on a cruise, countries turning them away

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the travel industry has all but grinded to a halt, many people already on trips as the coronavirus became a global pandemic now try to find their way back home.

FOX13’s Winnie Wright spoke exclusively to a Memphis man onboard a cruise ship stranded on the high seas with nowhere to port.

Countries such as Fiji, the attorney general there said there are no cases of coronavirus on the island and they don’t want the risk.

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The Memphian we spoke with onboard said no one on the Norwegian Jewel is sick.

Some things could be a lot worse for Dennis Abernathy.

But he said he can't be too upset his cruise of a lifetime didn't turn out as planned.

"We left on the 28th of February,” Abernathy said. “We left out of Sydney. It was a 22-day cruise, going to Tahiti."

Once they got on the open sea, everything changed.

Coronavirus became a pandemic, excursions were canceled, Tahiti wouldn’t let them port.

“We’ve been trying, going to about four other different countries trying to find a place to disembark,” he said. “So far, we have been refused at all of them: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji.”

After days in the open ocean, American Samoa agreed to let the ship stop to refuel, but sent the ship, once again, out to sea.

“Everything on the ship is fine,” he said. “It’s like any other typical day at sea.”

The ship is on its way to Honolulu, meaning the passengers won’t see land for five days.

Even though the drinks still flow, the sun shines, and the shows still run—it isn’t paradise for all the passengers.

“People are starting to get frustrated because they know what is going on back home, and how bad it is,” Abernathy said. “A lot of people want to get back home to their loved ones. People have jobs they’re trying to get back to.”

Abernathy said they’re supposed to be in Honolulu, Sunday at noon, but was advised not to make any travel arrangements to get back home just yet.

The cruise, he said, will be a memorable one.

“We’ve crossed the international date line three times and now we are headed to the equator, so it’s a bucket list trip,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line said they have suspended all cruises from March 13 to April 11.