Fears grow for dozens - potentially hundreds - of New Zealanders stranded at sea with limited medication and food after countries across the globe close their borders to limit the spread of Covid-19.

One Auckland woman is terrified for the wellbeing of her 65-year-old retired parents who were two of 37 Kiwis on board the Norwegian Jewel operated by Norwegian Cruise Line.

"My dad has heart disease and mother is diabetic and they starting to ration their medication, charging $9 a tablet, because they are running low. I'm extremely worried," Melanie Dingle told the Herald.

Her parents Murray and Suzanne Parker boarded the luxury cruise ship from Auckland on February 28 - before the potentially deadly virus had escalated in New Zealand.


"They booked it a year and a half ago - it was meant to be their retirement celebration trip."

They travelled to Fiji before getting turned away, then they tried Tahiti, then New Zealand and were now lurking the seas near Honolulu, Hawaii, which closed its borders just yesterday.

"I was on the phone to them today. The cruise line officials hadn't told them Hawaii borders were closed and last I heard they were apparently still fighting to get in," Dingle said.

'There will be more': Reaction to first confirmed Rotorua coronavirus case
Coronavirus: 11 new coronavirus cases in NZ, taking total to 39
Coronavirus: Family says China is now safer than NZ for their children
Coronavirus: The Government will consider changes to migrant workers rules

She said as far as she was aware no one on board the cruise ship was showing symptoms or was in self-isolation.

"I had hoped they would have been able to fly back to New Zealand from Fiji and I'd booked them flights but by the time they got there it was too late."

After then booking more flights from Honolulu, Dingle said she had spent nearly $4500 on tickets and instead of getting a refund has been credited with air points.

"I'm a high school teacher and will probably be needing that money soon so it's not ideal.


"I'm feeling really anxious for them. We just want them home safe with their grandkids."

Stranded grandparents Murray and Suzanne Parker pictured with their grandkids Tessa and Brodie Dingle. Photo / supplied
Stranded grandparents Murray and Suzanne Parker pictured with their grandkids Tessa and Brodie Dingle. Photo / supplied

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has announced as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of Covid-19 it will not allow passengers on the Maasdam operated by Holland America Line and the Norwegian Jewel operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, to disembark.

"The health and safety of all people in Hawaii is always at the forefront of operational decisions. Presently, all state resources are focused and directed towards containing the spread of COVID-19. Allowing more than 2500 passengers and crew to disembark will further strain these resources," Jade Butay, the director of Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDT), told ABC news.

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last Saturday all cruise ships were banned from coming to New Zealand until June 30.

On Tuesday one cruise ship, known as the Silver Muse, docked in Auckland and was allowed to disembark. Ports of Auckland later clarified that ships already in New Zealand waters at the time of the announcement were not banned.

Another Kiwi couple from Orewa contacted the Herald saying they were stranded at sea with 15 other New Zealanders.

"My wife and myself are on a cruise ship which was circumventing South America. We have been denied entry to ports... given permission to tie up and then turned back.

"All countries up the western coast closing their ports as we try to find somewhere to refuel and get supplies etc," John Wallace said.

Another person had friends from Hamilton stuck on a cruise in France and said they were potentially being taken to Northern Italy to disembark.

"Against their will," the friend told the Herald.

Meanwhile, an Australian cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, which left New Zealand five days ago, has had three Australian passengers and one crew member test positive for Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health is in the process of contacting the 56 New Zealanders who were on board the ship. The advice will be to be vigilant and contact their GP or Healthline if they display any Covid-19 symptoms.

The cruise ship departed Sydney on March 8 and returned two days ago. Any passengers on the cruise, who have since returned to New Zealand would be covered by the self-isolation requirement for all travellers returning to New Zealand, which kicked in on March 15.

The Ministry is working with Customs and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade to check whether which New Zealanders on board have now returned to New Zealand.