A couple from Sheppey trapped on board a coronavirus cruise liner are now back in Britain.
Tony and Karen Crowder from Minster were among hundreds of British tourists stranded in the Caribbean on the 485-room Braemar.
Tour bosses managed to get permission to dock at the Port of Mariel, Havana, Cuba on Wednesday where passengers were allowed to disembark and catch a plane back to Britain.
The couple landed at Heathrow at 12.30pm today.
Mr Crowder, who plays in Kent Pink Floyd tribute band On Thin Ice, said: "We were kept off the coast of Cuba for a while where we could see the land and Cuban Navy patrol boats watching us.
"We had to wait until we were allowed to dock but weren't allowed to take any suitcases off the boat, just a 10-kilo bag. It's been a farce."
Once docked, a fleet of coaches greeted them and took all 682 passengers on an hour's drive to Jose Marti Airport ready for an eight-hour flight home to Heathrow in three British Airways planes.
Coaches were also provided to take some passengers to Gatwick airport.
Mr Crowder added: "Hand luggage was allowed on the plane but we had to leave the rest of the baggage behind. It will be delivered later to our homes."
The couple's dream holiday of a lifetime turned into a nightmare when five cases of coronavirus were found in passengers who had left the ship.
For days it was anchored 25 miles off the Bahamas as authorities refused permission for it to berth. Emergency medical supplies had to be airlifted on board by helicopter.
One guest and four crew were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 10.
A further guest, who provided an inconclusive result, was later confirmed to be positive.
As a result, Braemar failed to receive clearance to disembark guests in Barbados on Thursday, March 12 and spent three days in safe haven in the Bahamas before Cuban authorities granted permission for guests to return to the UK by air from Havana.
Peter Deer, managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: "I would like to extend my sincere thanks on behalf of Fred Olsen to the Cuban authorities, the Port of Mariel and the Cuban people for their support.
"Other countries would not allow Braemar to dock once we had confirmed cases of coronavirus on board. Thanks to their kindness we are now able to get people home. Your support will not be forgotten. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
“I would also like to thank the staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health and Social Care.
"They have worked around the clock for many days to find a way to bring our passengers home without having to resort to an Atlantic crossing.
"They managed to do this while also facing many other challenges around the world. I cannot thank them enough.
“I must also thank Captain Jose Glavic and his crew. They have had a very tough few weeks but they have put the guests’ needs above those of their own. This goes for the medical staff on board Braemar, too.
“We must not forget the team who have been working all day and night on a solution for the Braemar passengers back at our head office in Ipswich, Suffolk. They have gone above and beyond to find a resolution. Thank you to them.
“Finally, I would like to thank our guests and their families back home for being so understanding during this unprecedented situation. It has not been an easy few days for anyone.
“For the time being we must focus on being healthy and supporting the most vulnerable. But I look forward to a time we can begin cruising again.”
Three flights were chartered from British Airways to fly guests to London Heathrow Terminal 5. The first took off last night at 10pm UK time.
The cruise company said any guests who have received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or have displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, will return to the UK on a separate flight direct to MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
All passengers on that flight had medical professionals with them and will have to self-isolate for seven days if they live alone or 14 days if they live with others.
The Braemar Relative Support Team was operating from 6am to 3pm on 01473 292 350.
The company said it was arranging coach transfers from London Heathrow to London Gatwick or Manchester airports if needed.
A company spokesman added: "While guests on the British Airways flights into London Heathrow will not currently be required to self-isolate, we would encourage everyone to monitor the latest updates from Public Health England on their return home."