(1 p.m. EDT) -- How do a senior couple, facing health and global transportation issues, get back home from Australia after their dream cruise is cut short?
Answer: Through the kindness of Cruise Critic members.
Jim, 89, and Cathy, 87, were both on a four-month World Cruise on Holland America Line's Amsterdam when the line was forced to cut it short in Fremantle, Australia.
Their concerned daughter, who lives in Ottawa, Canada, turned to the CC Message Boards with a thread entitled: "How do an 87 and 89 year old get home from Fremantle?"
Writing as Kindergirl, she posted the following message:
"Hi all, I am new to this board and don't know the etiquette so my apologies if this is not an appropriate post, but, being cruise savvy perhaps one of you have some suggestions.
My parents are on the GWV (Grand World Voyage). She is 87 with lung issues and he 89 and uses a walker. I am really struggling with how they will manage getting home. Even if someone in the family goes to help them return, it is still a 30+ hour flight with stops. And, doing all that and keeping them free of covid seems an insurmountable challenge.
I'm thinking the best idea would be for them to ride it out there, as crazy as it sounds. I don't know if that's possible in regular times, never mind now.
Has anyone had experience being stranded part way through a cruise? I'm wondering how much help is offered. I realize the possibility is remote, but has anyone been in this situation before? How did you manage?
All info, thoughts and ideas welcomed and appreciated."
The Cruise Critic community responded with an avalanche of suggestions, including flight schedules and offers to get messages to the couple, as well as contact details for embassies and the cruise line.
Then, enter member Copper10-8, a retired policeman and former security guard for HAL,who wrote the following post on March 19:
"Kindergirl, once you know the arrival time for them for the flight from Sydney to LAX, and their subsequent airline/flt # and time for the flight to Tampa, if interested, I am more than happy make the 30-min drive to LAX, meet up with them outside customs and baggage claim in the Tom Bradley (international) terminal, and drive them to the domestic terminal for that Tampa flt. My gmail is on the bottom of my signature. Just let me know."
Kindergirl replied: "@Copper10-8 that is an incredibly kind and generous offer. Truly, I don't know what to say, except thank you so much! I'll get back in touch when I hear from them.
if we have more people like you in these crazy times, we will do well."
True to his word, Copper10-8 met the Kinders at LAX and posted the following:
"OK this all went pretty smooth and fast! They had a wheelchair assist guy, Victor, pushing Jim up the ramp from CBP (Customs & Border Protection) to the waiting area where I was. After greetings, Jim insisted that Cathy take his seat in the chair (a true gentleman) and Victor pushed her to T2 with Jim, with his walker, and I following in trail like two fully domesticated husbands should
Upon arrival at T2, we discovered that Delta had closed down their ticket counter there. What?? No worries! We swapped Victor for two ladies with two wheelchairs and off our happy party went on a little trek to the adjacent Delta T3.
Great service by Delta there and they are now scheduled on the 10:40 AM flt to ATL with a connecting flt to TPA (not MCO/Orlando) for a no doubt joyful reunion with Deb there at 6:37 PM tonite
And so, hopefully, ends this saga!"
As the couple made their final descent into Tampa airport, many members started posting photos of celebratory drinks, in anticipation of the reunion.
And then finally, after 27 pages, countless views and comments, Kindergirl wrote:
"I am sorry to keep everyone waiting so long. They arrived safe and sound!!!! Tired but okay. @Copper10-8 ,my mother would like your address if you are willing to email it to me….They made it safe and sound everyone, thanks to you!"
the daughter told ABC News: "It was astonishing. My faith in humanity has been somewhat restored," she said. "That thread certainly warmed my heart."
As ger_77 put it so succinctly: "I don't know that there's EVER been a thread like this. Does anyone remember one? I've never been glued to my phone this way before!"