CAPITOLA – An adventure to Hawaii on board the Grand Princess cruise ship in February 2020 ended with a 14-day quarantine in San Francisco Bay for a Capitola resident and her friend.
That was almost a year ago.
Now Dixie Guzzo, who is over 80 years old, is looking forward to her COVID-19 vaccine.
A year after the first case of COVID-19 in the US, more than 24 million people have tested positive for the virus and more than 401,000 people have died. More than 34,000 people have died in California.
Grand Princess cruise passenger Dixie Guzzo returned to her Capitola home after spending time in her ship’s cabin on San Francisco Bay followed by two weeks of quarantine at Travis Air Force Base. Guzzo had a clean health certificate and no coronavirus. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)
For a year now, Guzzo has followed local protection instructions, only going on outdoor adventures to do important things like mail and groceries.
“I play by the rules,” said Guzzo. “It’s not that difficult. Those who say it violates their rights – bullshit! I take care of my health, I take care of your health.”
For Guzzo, this means that when you are on vacation you don’t visit family and instead choose to keep in touch via phone and Zoom calls.
“My grandson came to visit with his new girlfriend, we were sitting outside in the driveway,” she said. “I’m really not lonely, there is so much to do, so many books to read.”
Guzzo was busy volunteering her time at Compassion and Choices in Palo Alto, the Mid-County Senior Center, and their homeowners association, and staying connected through the internet and her laptop.
She’s also got used to buying things online, being a frequent shopper at Amazon.com, but venturing on a mask once a week to do local errands like grocery shopping and visits to CVS and the post office. She also checks in a local woman with disabilities.
I remember the trip
Much has happened since Guzzo and her dear friend Lois Duncan, a Washington woman who is also in her 80s, boarded the Grand Princess cruise to Hawaii. The two traveled together many times and were ready for another cruise adventure.
Granted, the destination is not what Guzzo and Duncan enjoy most about cruises, it is the journey on the ship and all that it has to offer. Therefore, the two did not opt for the expensive room, but only used it for sleeping and showering.
“The ship is the journey more than the land,” said Guzzo. “There is something for everyone … ukulele lessons, line dance lessons. We’re active little old ladies. “
Those celebrations screeched to a halt as staff and passengers aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19. Ultimately, two passengers and one crew member died, and at least another 103 who were on board the ship tested positive for COVID-19.
The friends’ basement room, a mere place to sleep and shower, was quickly converted into their 24-hour living space until they were allowed to disembark.
“It was hard,” Dixie Guzzo told Sentinel in March 2020. “But Lois and I are good friends, we didn’t have any problems. We sang a lot. “
On the evening of March 4th, Princess Cruises passengers were informed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a “small group of COVID-19 cases” related to a Grand Princess trip that Operated from San Francisco on February 11-21, prior to Guzzo and Duncan’s trip. Princess Cruises then canceled its last leg of Guzzo’s trip to Ensenada.
What followed was another adventure.
The cruise ship was eventually docked in Oakland Harbor, where passengers were taken to Travis Air Force Base to be quarantined for 14 days.
“You did an excellent job,” Guzzo said in March, repeating this week. “I didn’t like it, but it had to be done.”
She said the quarantine area was nice but surrounded by fences.
“We couldn’t escape,” joked Guzzo. Getting off with only one hand baggage meant that the baggage was left behind. “There was mass confusion, it took two days to find out. But it worked. “
They could also get their luggage and order things like shampoo, floss, and even flonase – three truckloads of deliveries, Guzzo recalled.
Guzzo and Duncan were also tested for COVID-19 – they had negative test results.
Guzzo remembered the ordeal and said it was “not wonderful”.
“That’s life. It’s what you make of it. They did their best,” she said of the cruise crew and Travis Air Force Base.
Guzzo said they called us by our names, delivered nutritious food, and checked our temperatures twice a day.
“I cannot fault the government or the princess for anything. They did the best they could with what they had, ”she said.
These feelings were not shared by some of her fellow travelers.
A month after the ordeal, a group of Northern California residents accused Princess Cruises of negligence in their response to the Grand Princess’ COVID-19 outbreak in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco.
The cruise line “chose to put profits above the people, including the safety of its passengers, crew and the public,” the lawsuit read, which stated that “those aboard the Hawaiian island hopping are not even a minimum to provide care “excursion that set sail from San Francisco.
However, Guzzo said Princess Cruises did everything possible to look after its passengers and refunded all their money – everything, the trip itself, plus the cost of the shuttle to and from home and anything purchased during the trip and quarantine .
Because of this, Guzzo is keeping her next cruise reservation, which was booked more than a year in advance, for October.
“I’ll be back sometime,” she said. “I’m not a scared cat, but I want to be safe.”
Guzzo was not sick, and neither was her immediate family.
“I’m just saying thank you, thank God. I don’t question it, ”said Guzzo.
For more information on COVID-19 and vaccinations, see santacruzhealth.com.
Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.