After months at sea, American cruise ship workers reunited with family in joyful homecoming

American cruise ship workers, finally home after months at sea, are noticing those on dry land are taking the virus a lot less seriously.


"Ahhh! Off the ship," cheered Ezra Freeman, an American cruise ship worker who had been stuck at sea for two months.

"It's amazing to touch land," said Freeman. "We're like, 'Wow, this really happened.' I think everyone was still in a state of shock."

Shock after eight weeks stuck at sea with no passengers.

Freeman, like tens of thousands of cruise ship workers, was trapped aboard her sea-fairing workplace after the novel coronavirus pandemic shuttered ports and made coming ashore uncertain.

Earlier this month, five cruise ship workers, Freeman included, were interviewed by the National Investigative Unit about their experience stuck at sea.

"Kind of a comfortable jail," said MaShawn Morton, one of the interviewed cruise ship workers, about the circumstances.

Just days after the interview, they'd finally step off their ships, and onto a private jet. Their cruise ship company chartered the flight after it promised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it would not let its employees use public transportation to get home. It's a key condition to ending their confinement.

"I felt relief," said Morton, who's now home after his sister drove him seven hours back to West Virginia. "I'm with my mother. So home cooked meal and all of that fresh air. It's good."

Jamey Grisham, another cruise ship worker, says neither CDC nor immigration officials tested him for COVID-19.

He's now under a quarantine again, this time in his Tupelo, Mississippi hometown. Finally ashore for the first time in two months, Grisham has noticed many people aren't observing social distancing. Instead, they're packed in restaurants and not wearing masks.

"Truthfully, I felt safer on the ship," said Grisham. "I felt like people took it very seriously."

Freeman, back home in Maryland, feels the same way.

"Seeing people walking super close together, not wearing masks. I'm like, I'm just kind of cringing."

Freeman hitched a ride with her parents with she finally landed. But as exciting as dry land must be after so long, pulling away from the crew was tough.

"We've gone through a lot," said Freeman. "So it's really hard to say goodbye to some people."

A farewell and a homecoming, eight weeks in the making.