Former EKU President & Wife Among Hundreds Stuck on Ship With Cases of Covid-19

RICHMOND, Ky. — A former president of Eastern Kentucky University and his wife are among several hundreds of passengers who are stranded on a cruise ship due to coronavirus concerns.

Doug Whitlock retired as President of EKU in 2013.

Since then, he and his wife Joanne have spent much of their time over the last several years as world travelers, sight-seeing by way of cruise ships.

But right now – the couple is one six Kentuckians who have been stuck on the Coral Princess cruise ship since March 13th.

The Whitlock’s were supposed to fly back home to Kentucky on March 19th after visiting Argentina.  

But that changed, when Whitlock says several passengers on the ship reported flu-like symptons, that were later confirmed as COVID-19.

“We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. since tuesday night, we have been self isolated or quarantined if you will, in our estate room. There’s almost 1000 passengers and about 870 crew. there are 12 cases of coronavirus on the ship. seven passengers and five crew members,” explains Whitlock

Whitlock tells Spectrum News 1 that no one on the Coral Princess ship has been on dry land since March 13th.

The passengers on the ship are currently in Fort Lauderdale and are waiting clearance from Florida Governor Ron Desantis, before they are allowed to dis-embark.

Whitlock is hopeful they will be able to return back to Kentucky in the coming days.

“We have a lot of friends on social media back home and we’ve been gratified and it’s been heartwarming to have so many of them, reach out to us with good wishes and prayers and that’s how that’s helping us get through this,” adds Whitlock