Coronavirus: Farmington High School grad among passengers on Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A Farmington family is uncertain when they will see their son and new daughter-in-law again after the Grand Princess Cruise Ship was quarantined off the coast of California. Twenty-one passengers and crew members on board the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Sean Boyles is a Farmington High School graduate but now lives in Albuquerque, where he works as a flight paramedic. He and his wife, Heather Boyles, left for their honeymoon on the Grand Princess Cruise Ship in February. They are among the 3,500 passengers on board the ship.

At first the cruise was going well, according to his mother Susan Boyles. Sean and Heather Boyles traveled from San Francisco to Hawaii, where the ship docked at four ports.

Sean and Heather Boyles are pictured during a formal dinner on the Grand Princess Cruise Ship.

"The whole thing was just going perfectly until they left Hawaii," Susan Boyles said.

At that time, they learned that some of the passengers on the ship who had been on a previous voyage, as well as some of the crew members, may have been in contact with people who had the coronavirus.

The cruise line changed its trip plans. Instead of heading to Ensenada, Mexico, for a day, the Grand Princess changed course to return to California. It arrived off the coast of California on March 5, but has not been allowed to dock. A helicopter took 49 test kits to the ship and 21 people on board — including 19 crew members — tested positive.

Coronavirus coverage:Grand Princess cruise remains in limbo, waiting to dock, with 21 cases

The ship will be brought into California through a noncommercial port and all the passengers will be tested for the coronavirus. It is unclear when the Grand Princess will be able to dock.

Health officials believe the people on board the ship who have tested positive for coronavirus may have had contact with a 71-year-old passenger who had previously been on the ship and later died from the virus, according to USA Today.

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Once they get off the ship, Sean and Heather Boyles could face quarantine before they are allowed to return home. Each passenger will be tested when they disembark from the ship.

"I'm not worried about them catching it," Susan Boyles said. "They're young. They're healthy."

Tracking the Coronavirus Contagion:Existing cases across the globe

Sean Boyles graduated from Farmington High School in 2003.

What is frustrating Susan Boyles is not knowing when her son and daughter-in-law will be allowed to return.

"They haven't yet heard anything about where they're going to dock or when," she said.

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She said Princess Cruises has been wonderful to work with and provided regular updates to the passengers. However, the cruise captain hasn't been provided much information about when the passengers may be able to disembark.

Sean and Heather Boyles were scheduled to disembark in San Francisco on March 6 and had hoped to spend a few days there before flying back to Albuquerque on March 9. Now Susan Boyles does not know when they will be allowed off the ship, or what will happen after that.

"That, for me as a parent, is the most frustrating thing," she said.

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Susan Boyles said her son and daughter-in-law are fortunate. They have a small suite with a balcony so they can go outside and get fresh air despite being confined to their rooms. She said the people she really feels sorry for are the ones in small, interior cabins.

A cruise ship worker cleans a railing on the Grand Princess Thursday, March 5, 2020, off the California coast.

There have not been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Mexico.

Coronavirus coverage:San Juan Regional Medical Center establishes hotline

San Juan Regional Medical Center has created a coronavirus information hotline to provide people with the most up to date information available. The hotline number is 505-516-0938 or 888-949-5387.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at

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