I don’t often write about people, I write about travel (particularly airlines) and points because that’s what I know. But given the gloomy situation, I think it would be fun to switch it up and cover something besides X airline flying a widebody plane with 9 passengers on board.
THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME
Olivia and Raul De Freitas left for the Maldives on March 22nd for a 6-day honeymoon at the Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives. At the time, they were assured by their travel agent that they would have safe passage back home despite the turmoil happening around the world.
Similar to many people that were traveling during this time, after arriving in the Maldives they received word that South Africa would be closing their airports within 24 hours and the couple was unsure of their ability to get back to South Africa on such short notice.
They were also given an option by the South African Embassy in Sri Lanka to charter a jet with the other South Africans (who were also trapped in the Maldives) to travel home at a cost of more than $100,000.
The message from the Embassy noted that it would be at their own expense and everyone could split the cost. However, the government had only connected with around 20 of the 40 South Africans in the Maldives and many were unable or refusing to pay. The fewer the number of people on board, the more expensive each share would become so the De Freitas decided to continue to stay at the resort.
Interestingly during this time, all of the other couples at the resort had cleared out and therefore this meant they had the resort all to themselves.
They spent a lot of time sleeping and going to the pool. They also get quite a bit of attention from the staff due to the lack of other guests (e.g. special candlelit dinners on the beach, an entire performance of a show just for them, nine waiters waiting at their table, etc.)
“We’ve started playing a lot of table tennis and snooker. It’s incredible that we get this extra time.” Ms. De Freitas said.
But the financial toll is weighing on them. Although the couple has been paying a generously discounted rate, the bill continues to grow. Each day that ticks by is more money out of their savings.
On April 5, they were contacted by the South African embassy and given an hour’s notice to pack their things and were transported to a different five-star resort where the rest of the South Africans stuck in the Maldives have gathered. This will surely be easier for the embassy to help arrange an eventual escape.
In addition to their escalating endless honeymoon debt, they can add the unknown price of two tickets on what may likely be a near-vacant jet.
“Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island, until you’re actually stuck,” Ms. De Freitas said. “It only sounds good because you know you can leave.”
Until then, the honeymoon will continue in what is sure to be a… memorable experience.
What do you make of this experience? Does it sound like paradise? Would you want to switch places? What would you do?