Woman from Myrtle Beach area stuck on cruise ship due to coronavirus

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A woman originally from Myrtle Beach is stuck on a cruise ship she works for because of coronavirus.

That’s despite the fact that no one on board the ship has tested positive or come in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Erin Bunts now lives in Georgia but grew up in the Myrtle Beach area. Her parents live in the Garden City area.

Bunts works on the Holland America cruise ship. It left New Zealand on March 19. It arrived in Los Angeles on April 21, but the CDC wouldn’t allow crew members to come off the ship due to coronavirus concerns.

Bunts has been stuck in her small room aboard the ship for 22 ½ hours a day. The only time she’s allowed outside her room is to eat meals.

Crew members also have their temperatures taken twice a day.

“You kind of have to get creative with ways to pass the time, so for me, I like to watch movies, so I watch a lot of movies, but I only have the movies that are on TV, so I’m kind of running out at this point,” Bunts said.

The ship is unable to dock, which means it’s been circling around the Pacific Ocean from the Los Angeles area to the San Diego area and back for weeks now.

It only docked once, and that was only for around five hours so it could refuel and restock on food. Crew members weren’t allowed to leave the ship when it docked, though.

Bunts’ parents, Laura and Mickey Bunts, are anxiously waiting for when she’ll finally be able to come off the ship.

“Of course we want her home,” her mother Laura Bunts said. “She’s not had any contact at all with anybody with COVID-19, so that’s the blessing, so she’s not been in any contact with any passengers since the beginning of March, and we want it to stay that way.”

Bunts and her parents want to emphasize they are very grateful for Holland America for taking good care of her and the rest of the crew.

After all, they’re staying on a nice cruise ship, but they all just wish there was a way for the CDC to allow the crew members on board to get off the ship so they can get back to their lives on land.

“Something that I’m most excited for is to be able to make my own food and plates and to be able to buy what I want to buy at the grocery store,” Bunts said. “It sounds really exciting to me. Just like the small normal human things I’m really excited to get back to.”

Bunts also said she’s noticed she and the people on board have almost lost some of their communication skills since they hardly see each other all day.

Also, she just got this job a few months ago, and this was her first cruise on the job. It certainly hasn’t gone how she expected.

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