040220_Broaduses

Bob and Jennifer Broadus are pictured aboard the Rotterdam as they hope to make their way back to Glynn County soon.

A St. Simons Island couple who had been stranded at sea for weeks will sleep easier tonight in their own bed.

Bob and Jennifer Broadus were preparing to board a plane bound for Atlanta on Friday morning. From there, they were to fly back to Jacksonville and then drive to their Glynn County home.

They expected to arrive late Friday evening.

While there were many steps to take, the couple were beyond excited to be on their way.

“Needless to say, we are extremely eager to get home and do the little things we all take for granted … like getting the mail, watering plants, sweeping the kitchen, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Jennifer Broadus said.

It’s something that they have been unable to do since embarking on the ill-fated voyage last month. They had planned to sail aboard the Zaandam from Buenos Aires around the Horn of South America to Santiago, Chile. Instead, the Zaandam experienced an outbreak of the coronavirus which left two dead, according to the Associated Press.

The Broaduses were told by a crew member that two other deaths also occurred but were due to a heart attack and a fall in the shower.

As the outbreak spread, passengers were confined to their rooms, only being allowed brief walks once a day. That began on March 22, the Broaduses’ 45th wedding anniversary.

The two left on March 7, a day before the U.S. State Department issued a warning to the public to avoid cruise ships. In the alert, it cautioned “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.”

There had, however, been instances of illness aboard other ships, including the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan and the Grand Princess near California, both of which had to organize evacuations.

At the time, the Broaduses didn’t feel that they were at risk. They were heading to a place that had yet to experience a virus outbreak.

“When we left, South America did not have any Covid incidents, so we felt like we were going in a safe direction of the safest continent,” she said.

For many in early March, the pandemic seemed a world away and unlikely to be the life-altering event it has become.

The couple will be returning to a very different place than the one they left, as Glynn County and most of the country have been ordered to shelter in place. But they are happy to comply and grateful for the exhaustive efforts to bring them home.

“We couldn’t have asked for more from Holland America Line — keeping us safe and comfortable under extreme conditions at enormous cost of staff, resources and money for the company,” she said.

They are also thrilled to simply sleep in their own bed again and to rejoin the community that has supported them through the ordeal.

“We are so thankful for the enormous outpouring of support by family and so many friends and colleagues on St. Simons Island and from places all over the country. It had really strengthened our belief in the kindness of others and how it fits into the greater scheme of humanity,” she said.

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