Standup comedian Jen Murphy recently took a comedy gig on a cruise ship with plans to enjoy Antigua's beaches by day while entertaining 1,800 passengers with her comedy act by night.
But the omicron variant upstaged her. Soon after testing positive for COVID, she was sentenced to eight days of solitary confinement in a windowless cabin in the ship's galley. It was not funny then, but Murphy is laughing about it now. In an interview for “LA Times Today,” Murphy gave Lisa McRee a look into her quarantine cruise.
What You Need To Know
- Comedian Jen Murphy was supposed to perform on a cruise ship, until she tested positive for COVID on board
- Murphy spent eight days in isolation inside a room at the bottom of the ship
- Her meals were dropped off by crew members, but she did not see another person the entire time
- Murphy recovered from COVID and was sent home at the next port
Even though it was risky to get on a cruise during the pandemic, Murphy needed the gig. She started to feel sick shortly after getting on the ship.
"This was the first cruise ship I've been getting on ever since the beginning of COVID," she said. "I took three tests prior to getting on, at home, that week, and then I got on the ship. They tested me when I got... when I boarded. I was negative. And then that first night I woke up in the middle of the night, sick. I thought maybe it was just a cold since I tested so many times."
Murphy went to the medical department and asked for some cold medicine. The doctor gave her a COVID test and then told her to go back to her room and pack her bags. After she tested positive, Murphy was moved into a passenger room to isolate while she was sick.
"I just started getting claustrophobia and thinking how I'm at the bottom of the ship, and there's no window. And then all of a sudden, I realized I don't even have a key! I can't leave because then I can't get back in," she said. "They're very serious about their safety, which is good."
Murphy's food was brought to her room each day, wrapped in bags labeled "biohazard infectious waste."
"That was one part that made me just feel shameful," she said. "I just felt so dirty because three times a day breakfast, lunch, dinner, they would leave a tray outside on the floor and they would just bang on the door. And I would wait until I heard the footsteps go away because I could not be exposed to anybody."
Murphy carefully rationed the bag of Peanut M&Ms she'd brought on board.
"I always thought that there was something wrong with me because I make sure to always carry some candy in my bag just in case I get stuck somewhere. Now, after this, I'll be carrying five bags of candy in my bag because one bag M&Ms was not enough."
Murphy had relatively mild symptoms while she was sick but shared how unpleasant it was to be sick and isolated from anyone else.
“It was scary. I'm healthy. I was vaccinated. So, I didn't worry too much. And then by night two, I was waking up with fever sweats. And then I start to really panic because I am in the bottom of the ship," she said. "How long would it take for anybody to even know that I was that ill? Who's going to notice except the guy that delivers my food? And then I start picturing what happens if you're in the middle of the ocean and you are really sick, they have to, like, have a helicopter like airlift you out and take you to the nearest hospital. I'm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean here.”
Murphy was able to stay connected with the outside world via social media, but internet access was pricey. She reached out on social media asking for people to keep her company during her isolation.
Even after this experience, Murphy would get back on board if the opportunity to perform on a cruise came up again.
"I feel like I got a superpower because I had it. It'd just be bad luck if I ended up at the bottom of the ship again."
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