Dave Garlick and his wife Linda were enjoying the sights on their Alaskan cruise in mid-July until Dave somehow contracted COVID-19 near the end of the trip.
Garlick, who is vaccinated, spent the last two days of the cruise isolated in his cabin and then, according to protocol, the Holland America cruise line escorted him to a bus with 14 others who then went to the Vancouver Airport Sheraton to spend another eight days in quarantine.
According to federal rules, Canadians returning from abroad have to isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Linda tested negative so she flew home.
The hotel quarantine cost $5,700, which he had to pay upfront. He said Holland America will reimburse him for whatever amount his trip insurance won't cover.
Garlick admits the experience was not a big inconvenience for him but he warns others they need to prepare for the possibility it could happen to them.
"If people want to pretend that COVID's gone, then they're really pretending. I think that if you're going to go on a cruise, you're taking a very calculated risk," he said, adding that he is not against the government's requirements.
"I don't think it's time to just drop all these regulations."
Epidemiologist Colin Furness is opposed to hotel quarantining, saying that hotels aren't quarantine facilities and there's still opportunity for spread.
He said he feels that more should be done to improve air quality in public places and people should be told to wear respirator masks, such the N-95 variety, when in contact with others instead of quarantining.
"I don't think that quarantine the way we're doing it is actually having that much benefit. It would be better if we had one consistent rule that said, if you've been travelling you've got to wear a respirator mask outside in public for 10 days," said Furness, adding that the measures are necessary to stop the spread of variants.
A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement that quarantines are necessary to stop the spread of the disease.
"The border measures currently in place remain the most effective means of monitoring and limiting the importation of new cases of COVID-19 and variants of concern, and their spread in to Canada," writes Mark Johnson.
Garlick could have opted for a federal quarantine facility but he didn't like the sound of that.
Jacqueline Mizon, owner of LaSalle Travel Services Inc., advises travellers buy trip insurance that covers trip cancellation and medical issues.
"As of right now, because we're not deemed non-essential, most insurance companies are covering you. As soon as we're deemed non-essential travel [by the federal government] then you have to get the COVID medical insurance," said Mizon.
Mizon said there haven't been very many cases of people she has booked trips for having to have to quarantine, perhaps only one or two.
As for Garlick, he said his quarantine experience wasn't a bad one.
"My wife calls it a writer's retreat," the retired school principal recalled. "She went online, found two writing pads for me, sent them to me. They were there within a day. So I had four pens and two writing pads and two good books to read."