Coronavirus: 10 Kiwis trapped on board cruise ship off African coast

Ten New Zealanders are trapped at sea on a cruise ship that is running low on supplies, Newshub has learned.

The Norwegian Spirit is currently off the coast of Africa, unable to find anywhere to dock because of strict coronavirus border restrictions.

Joy Vient, one of the Kiwis onboard, had been enjoying the cruise of a lifetime after setting off from Dubai less than two weeks ago - but she's not enjoying it any more.

She's now stuck on a ship that can't find anywhere to dock, because COVID-19 has shut down all the nearby ports. 

"There are 10 New Zealanders on board," read Vient's most recent post on social media.

"Pretty rough seas in the last 24 hours. The only thing I know, is how deep the sea is! The captain is lying low and hasn't been seen for days."

Vient's brother, John Sarginson, is getting limited communication from both her and the ship.

"There's a lot of unhappiness on board, especially with the heavy seas," he said. "They have been on the water now coming up 13 days."

Initially Vient, a farmer from Arrowtown, was relatively happy, posting: "Hi everyone. I am at sea in the Indian Ocean. I am safe and well and happy. No one has the virus on this ship."

But that is changing. Now she and 2000 other passengers are trapped at sea, with no fresh food and heavy weather.

"They’ve hit a couple of good waves and there's been talk of some cyclones," Sarginson told Newshub.  

The cruise ship has been searching for a port it can dock in since leaving Dubai earlier this month. The ship stopped at  Muscat, but was not allowed in.

It also tried the Suez Canal, but that too was closed. The ship ended up north of Madagascar and then headed along the coast of Africa towards Cape Town. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster in the country, and has closed its borders to people from high-risk countries.

Many of those on board are from such nations, and the Norwegian Spirit also stopped off in coronavirus-ravaged Rome.

But Sarginson says his sister is hopeful of getting off the ship in Cape Town.

"I don’t think there's anyone out there who can say where it's all gonna wind up," he says

Norwegian Cruiseliners told Newshub they will share an update when one becomes available.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New Zealand has called for Kiwis on holiday overseas to come home - but these Kiwis remain trapped at sea.