Ron Griebell and his wife, Sandra Hahnenkratt, are now fully vaccinated against the virus that left them quarantined in a windowless room on a cruise ship off the California coast last March.
The Sun City Summerlin couple, both 79, got their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Desert Vista Community Center on Thursday, 364 days after their quarantine began.
“I think we’re lucky,” Griebell said. “And the fact that we got the vaccine does give you some semblance of safety.”
They boarded the Grand Princess on Feb. 21, 2020, for a trip to Hawaii. Griebell said he and his wife were eating in the buffet on the top deck on March 5 when the captain announced that all passengers needed to return to their rooms, where they would need to quarantine.
“We knew very little about the virus,” Griebell said. “We didn’t have any serious information about the virus at all, and if we had, we probably would have canceled the cruise.”
Griebell and Hahnenkratt quarantined in their windowless room on the boat for six days and six nights before the ship docked. On March 11, they were flown to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, where they stayed for another four days before returning home to Las Vegas.
Hahnenkratt said she didn’t fully understand the severity of the virus until she got off the ship and saw that everyone greeting them on land was wearing hazmat suits.
“When we saw that we said, ‘My God, this has got to be serious,’ ” Hahnenkratt said. “That’s when we realized, I think, that we had a serious situation.”
Nearly a year later, they said they’re relieved to be vaccinated and that they feel lucky to have survived what Griebell called “the most horrible experience of my life,” when so many others didn’t. More than 5,000 people in Nevada and more than 518,000 in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus.
And while the vaccine has provided a sense of safety, Griebell said, he knows it won’t solve everything. He said he and his wife were told after getting their shot Thursday morning that it wouldn’t fully take effect for another 14 days, and even then they’d need to take precautions.
“The government has recommended that we continue to wear masks and that we continue to distance when possible, so we don’t really see this as a cure-all,” Griebell said. “We don’t know when the end of this horrible nightmare is over.”