Grand Princess passengers relieved as ship docks in Oakland

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FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KTXL) -- As they inched closer to dry land Monday, many passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship could not help but cheer.

“Excitement, I think everyone is feeling really excited,” said passenger and Carmichael resident Alice Barnhart.

After five days trapped in a tiny cabin, Barnhart and her husband, Dale, were among the thousands finally getting ready to leave the ship at the Port of Oakland.

“Well, I think both of us are pretty positive people normally,” Alice said. “So, when something like this happens you just have to go with the flow. You can’t change it, it is what it is.”

The Carmichael couple has tried to stay busy, playing gin rummy and watching movies, but they are ready to get home.

The Barnharts told FOX40 they were still waiting to undergo a medical screening but with thousands of passengers to screen, the ship’s captain said will take several days.

Over a loudspeaker, the captain informed passengers that those with more urgent medical needs will be top priority when it comes to disembarking. They include the 21 people aboard who have already tested positive for COVID-19.

Next, California residents like the Barnharts will be screened.

“You were with a lot of people,” Alice explained. “There were people coughing around the ship. We feel fine, so we will just keep our fingers crossed.”

The couple said they are hoping to get a clean bill of health so they can travel to the airbase in Fairfield, where they will face 14 days in quarantine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 1,000 Californians will be divided between Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Out-of-state passengers will travel to government facilities in different states for their quarantines.

Officials with Travis Air Force Base say no one who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be held there.

All the Barnharts can do now is watch and wait, hoping their vacation turned quarantine will end safely.

“Do the best you can, just keep each other company and stay positive,” Alice said.

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Buses arrive at Travis Air Force Base

Two buses full of passengers from the Grand Princess arrived in Fairfield Monday night. The second wave of passengers is expected to arrive at Travis Air Force Base Tuesday.

Michele and Steven Smith from Paradise are hoping to be on the next bus out.

After more than four days trapped inside their cruise ship cabin, the couple said the fresh air felt nice.

“Oh, exhilarating, the fresh air. Everyone else when they went outside there was nothing to look at, just water,” Michele told FOX40. “I really felt like God was blessing us, I really did. It was extraordinary.”

The Smiths have spent 22 married years together but those days shared under quarantine on the Grand Princess will be ones they will never forget.

“We’ve been married a long time and we raised nine children together, so we know what it’s like to be patient,” Steven said.

The couple moved from Chico to Paradise last year to build new homes for those who lost theirs in the Camp Fire.

“We did the opposite of everybody else,” Steven said.  

“We really want to help out,” Michele said. “It’s a really important community and we want to be there for them and become part of the community as much as we can.”

They were eager to get back soon to finish the job.

But that likely will not be for two more weeks as they get ready to undergo another round of quarantine at Travis Air Force Base.

“Now we’re at a point where we’re pretty anxious, starting to feel anxious anyway,” Steven said. “Our spirits are up and we understand what happens is outside of our control. But I think the powers at be are doing a good job.”

The Smiths said they feel healthy and have so far shown no symptoms of COVID-19.

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