Newlyweds Olivia and Raul De Freitas checked into a luxury resort in the Maldives to celebrate their honeymoon — but they haven't been able to check out because of coronavirus and airport restrictions.
In a Sunday New York Times report, the De Freitas — who live in South Africa — detailed their experience.
What are the details?
The couple, 27 and 28 years old respectively, checked into the Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives resort on March 22, and were supposed to leave after six days.
Their travel agent, who was aware of the COVID-19 pandemic, assured the couple that they would be able to return home from the vacation no matter what.
But that didn't happen.
The two were on their fourth day at the resort when they received notice that South Africa's airports would be imposing closures to begin the following day.
According to the outlet, "By Wednesday, they received notice that their country's airports would all be closed by midnight Thursday. Flights back to South Africa are five hours to Doha, Qatar, a three-hour layover, and then nine hours to Johannesburg — so even if they scrambled, and even if they could get a flight, the complexities of leaving their remote island ensured they'd never make it home in time."
Olivia and Raul even mulled over taking a speedboat to the Maldives' main island, where they would try to wait it out at the airport. However, the nation announced its own lockdown, which banned any new foreign travelers. The couple became concerned that if they left the resort, they might not be able to get back in if they needed to.
Olivia, who is grateful for having been able to take the trip, told the Times, "It's incredible that we get this extra time."
She called the vacation an "extravagance," as she is a teacher and her husband is a butcher.
The resort is still making them pay, however, at a discounted rate.
"Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island, until you're actually stuck," she admitted. "It only sounds good because you know you can leave."
Despite discount, couple facing financial toll
The Times reported that the financial toll is heavy around the couple's necks.
"Though the couple has been paying a generously discounted rate, the bill grows ever larger," the outlet reported. "Each day that ticks by is a chip taken out of their savings that had been set aside for a house down payment."
The two decided to contact the South African Consulate in the Maldives, as well as the South African Embassy in nearby Sri Lanka, to explore their options. They discovered that they were among 40 other South Africans stranded in the islands, and their only choice was to jointly pay for a chartered jet home to the tune of $104,000.
Seven days into their vacation, Olivia and Raul were the last remaining guests at the resort.
On Sunday, the couple was sent to another resort in the islands where the other South Africans were being quarantined, and the South African government promised that it would subsidize the resort costs for its citizens.
According to the outlet, South Africa's lockdown is set to last until at least April 16.
It is unclear at the time of this writing, however, when the couple will be able to return home.