Melissa and Derek's Quarantined Cruise

Written by Maggie Murdock Nichols in the June 2020 Issue

Many of us faced cramped quarters, mundanity and limited choices as we attempted to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. While we sheltered at home, Edmond native Melissa Lissner and her husband Derek viewed the outside world through a tiny porthole in an 8x15 foot cabin. Melissa performed her last show as a figure skater on the ship. Without passengers, the Royal Caribbean ship was left to wander aimlessly in the open seas, seeking a port that would take them in. 

Melissa began her figure skating career at the Arctic Edge Ice Rink. Early on it was clear that Melissa was bound for a professional career. Melissa has been skating for 23 years and has spent the past 6 years skating on cruise ships. Figure skating on a cruise takes discipline and talent. Without a full crew and huge rink, all eyes are on the skater. 

Melissa met her husband Derek through work on the cruise ship. The couple has been married for almost two years. Melissa said she has visited more countries than there are states in the United States. The couple began work on a cruise with a port in Sydney, Australia on November 12th of 2019. The ship returned to port and offloaded passengers on March 18th. The night before, Melissa was about to take the ice when the captain announced that all performances would be cancelled and sent all guests and crew to their cabins. The crew completed a full barrier clean and waited for further instruction. 

The cruise line encouraged social distancing and increased sanitization. On March 30th, after a possible positive case of Coronavirus among the crew, a 17-day complete lockdown began. The crew was confined to their compact cabins for more than two weeks. Meals were brought to their rooms. The cruise line did their best to take care of the crew and loaded up with as many supplies as they could before they were told to leave Australian waters. 

The ship made its journey to the Philippines as the crew sheltered below deck. Many countries made arrangements for their citizens, but Americans were left without a plan. On April 15th, changes were made to the lockdown. The crew was allowed two hours a day outside, one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon. On April 18th, Derek and Melissa were told to move out of their cabin and into guests rooms. They enjoyed the larger room and balcony. At this point, they could eat in the cafeteria, but had to social distance and wear masks. 

On April 29th, the Americans heard they might have flights home. They rushed to pack their belongings and stepped foot on land in 50 days. They were put through rigorous for the first time screening and temperature checks. The Phillipine military escorted them until they boarded their plane. They faced a similar process in South Korea. They were shocked by the lack of safety procedures when they landed in Chicago. There were no temperature checks and they were simply handed a CDC pamphlet. When they finally landed in Oklahoma City, Melissa and Derek were greeted by a sign displaying Coronavirus safety information and a few people wearing masks. 

The couple self-isolated in Edmond for two weeks. Not exactly the getaway they had originally planned after their last cruise, but they were thankful to be safe at home again. 

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