Dutch students forced to sail across the Atlantic to return home after coronavirus outbreak

When the coronavirus hit Europe in full-force, many people found themselves stranded in foreign countries, unable to easily return home due to the many new travel restrictions.

This was the case of 25 Dutch high-school students on a study trip, who had no choice but to sail across the Atlantic from the Caribbean, reports Reuters.

5-week journey across the Atlantic

The young students, aged between 15 and 17 years old, were part of a sailing course that was supposed to last for six weeks.

The plan was to sail to Cuba on board of a ship built in 1920 called Wylde Swan. They were scheduled to fly back to the Netherlands, but coronavirus and the resulting flight cancellations left them stranded.

The organizers of the course, which involved professional sailors and teachers, decided that the only thing left to do was to sail all the way back to the Netherlands — a 7000-kilometre trip.

Stockpiling on resources on the island of Saint Lucia, the crew and the students started their slow journey back home. In their first stop in Europe, on the Azores islands belonging to Portugal, the students and the crew were not along to go out onshore.

They finally arrived back in the Netherlands in Harlingen on April 26, just in time to celebrate King’s Day. As per social distancing measures, they could only leave the ship one-by-one, before being picked up by their parents who were eagerly waiting for them.

Life on the ship

One of the students said that one of the biggest issues for her was the lack of privacy, as there were 40 people in total on the ship.

Activity wise, the students played games and studied for their sailing course. Students also rotated keeping watch from 3 AM to 6 AM. In the afternoons there was a “Happy Hour”, ironically named such, because that was the hour when the students had to help with cleaning.

Follow DutchReview on Facebook for the latest news on the coronavirus in the Netherlands.

Feature Image: Ph. Saget/Wikimedia Commons 

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.


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