VICTORIA -- A retired couple from a Victoria suburb are finally wrapping up a cruise vacation that turned into a coronavirus crisis.

Norma Kirkham and her husband David were aboard the Zaandam, a Holland America cruise liner, when several passengers became ill.

Four passengers died in late March while the boat floated off Panama City.

On Friday, the Metchosin couple disembarked in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

“Folks waving, blowing air horns, yelling 'welcome home' from their balconies and yards as we went by,” said Norma of their landing.

The couple said after disembarking the ship they were rushed onto a bus with other Canadian passengers. 

Norma told CTV News a large police motorcycle escort stopped traffic the entire way from the port to the Tarmac of a nearby airport where a charter plane waited. 


By midday Friday, the Kirkham family had touched down in at Toronto Pearson Airport and were awaiting a connecting flight to Vancouver Island. They expect to be home by Friday night. 

Since coming ashore, the Canadian passengers have been wearing medical-grade face masks. Once the couple touches down they will be immediately forced into a 14-day quarantine. 

Under the federal Quarantine Act, all travellers returning to Canada must quarantine themselves for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

That means they must stay in their homes and not leave for any reason, though the government says asymptomatic Canadians can go into their yards or on their balconies for fresh air and exercise.