Rottnest Island quarantine period comes to an end for Vasco da Gama passengers

Quarantine on Rottnest Island has been "home" for Bob Lloyd and Peta Semmens for a fortnight.
Quarantine on Rottnest Island has been "home" for Bob Lloyd and Peta Semmens for a fortnight.

It was the trip of a lifetime but not the one Western Australian couple Bob Lloyd and Peta Semmens had planned.

What they thought was going to be a 12 to 18 month European adventure when they boarded the Vasco da Gama last month, abruptly ended with a two-week stint in quarantine on Rottnest Island.

The couple, along with the other 200 other West Australians, were released from the island on Friday, two days earlier than expected.

"It's a bit of a surprise; we were told last night that we were heading back today rather than Monday," Ms Semmens said.

Bob Lloyd and Peta Semmens

Bob Lloyd and Peta Semmens

"You can read about it or watch it on TV, but it has been an absolutely unreal experience."

The couple boarded the ship in Singapore on March 9, and were due to arrive in London on April 23.

But the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures led the cruise operator, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, to change its plans.

After exchanging Australian for British and European passengers with the ship Columbus, Vasco da Gama returned to Fremantle on March 28.

In addition to the West Australians, about 500 people from other states and about 100 New Zealanders were on board.

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama

None of the ship's passengers reported any coronavirus symptoms.

The New Zealanders were flown home, while the West Australians were taken by ferry to Rottnest Island and accommodated in chalets, units and hostel rooms.

The other Australians were taken to city hotels for their 14-day self-isolation.

The couple were housed in a cottage in Geordie Bay, which had a balcony, outdoor area and barbecue.

"We are just so grateful and lucky to be here (Rottnest Island); the people have been exemplary. I just can't praise them enough," she said.

"The ones who are doing it tough are in the hotels. They might be lovely hotels but 14 days in a very small room where you can't open a window and you can't get any information is an awful situation."

Having sold their house and business just before setting sail, the couple will spend time with Ms Semmens' niece in Perth and regroup.

"We will see what happens but we have booked the same cruise for the same time next year," she said.

READ MORE

This story Shock end to Rottnest Island quarantine for WA cruise ship couple first appeared on The Canberra Times.