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Quebec couple stuck on cruise praises Canadian government’s handling of situation

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A Montreal couple, set to return to Canada overnight Monday after getting stuck on another quarantined cruise amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, is praising the government’s swift action to get Canadians back home.

“They’ve been superb,” said Ron Romanado, 66, from Pointe-Claire.

The Grand Princess cruise ship, which has been floating off the coast of California for several days amid COVID-19 concerns, was set to dock in Oakland, Calif. on Monday.

“We’ve gotten notified that [Ottawa] is sending a plane. I can’t say enough about our government,” he told Global News via Skype.

The ship, which counted 237 Canadians aboard, departed on Feb. 21. On Thursday, all passengers were placed in quarantine in their rooms.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Grand Princess cruise ship carrying 237 Canadians docks in California

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“There were guys in hazmat suits in the hallway; it [was like] a bad science fiction movie,” said Romanado, who was vacationing on the cruise ship with his wife, Karen Spoon-Goldman, 62.

The couple have not yet been tested for the virus as neither of them have presented symptoms.

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There are 21 people diagnosed with COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries. There’s no word on the nationalities of the patients.

The ship had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence the vessel was a breeding ground for a cluster of at least 20 cases.

READ MORE: Officials urge Canadians to ‘avoid all cruise ship travel’ over COVID-19 risk

The Canadian government announced late Sunday that they were sending a plane to retrieve all Canadians aboard and bring them back to the air force base in Trenton, Ont., with no mention of a timeline.

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On Monday, however, the couple told Global News they had been notified that they were boarding the plane back to Canada that night — “A wonderful surprise,” said Spoon-Goldman.

“The government has done whatever they need to do to get us out of here,” Romanado said.

The couple said they aren’t worried about catching the virus as they are both in good health. They are booked for three more upcoming cruises, and are supposed to be set to go to Alaska in June.

“We’re leaning towards not going,” Romanado conceded.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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