Local friend group returns to Wisconsin after being stuck on cruise ship due to COVID-19

NOW: Local friend group returns to Wisconsin after being stuck on cruise ship due to COVID-19

(CBS 58) -- A group of friends from Southeastern Wisconsin are back home and now in self-quarantine after vacationing in South America.

CBS 58 first spoke with the group while they were stuck on their cruise ship in Chile.

The group landed at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Monday, March 30, more than 15 days after they were originally scheduled to get home.

"The cruise was normal, we did everything we normally would have done, we went to shows, I mean they had buffets open, so it was a great cruise," Menomonee Falls resident Skip Grubanowitch said.

Grubanowitch and his friends were on a cruise in South America last month when the shipped docked in Chile, but the passengers weren't allowed off because of coronavirus.

After a few days of restocking and refueling, the ship left Chile with the passengers on board and headed for San Diego.

"The original cruise was I believe 15 days, this was another 14 and then we had to circle a couple of days to get restocked, so I think in total it was 30 days," he said.

Despite the unplanned trip extension, Grubanowitch said he didn't mind because passengers were told at the time no one on board had coronavirus.

"We thought we were in a bubble on the ship because we had not been on land for like a total of 17 days," he said.

On Tuesday, March 31, that changed.

"I get a letter from Celebrity that says there was one patient on the ship that had coronavirus, they wanted us to know about it," Grubanowitch said. "They wanted us to self-quarantine, which we were asked to do anyway."

Grubanowitch said he's quarantining at home and feeling good.

"Even if I do get it [COVID-19], like so many people that have it and have gone through it, get sick and get better, I'm hoping that would be the worst case scenario," he said.

Grubanowitch said the whole experience doesn't turn him away from cruising. He had another cruise planned for May which was canceled, but hopes to go on one he has booked in November. 

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