Cruising in the time of Coronavirus
We had a cruise planned for early February – a replacement for the cruises we couldn't go on in October. But then … Coronavirus.
First of all there were the questions – should we stay or should we go? How bad is the epidemic? What are the odds of someone getting on the ship with us who is infected? What will we do if our ship gets quarantined? How contagious is it, really? Are we more likely to get 'flu' ? And how do we buy those pesky n95 masks, anyhow?
Then there were the preparations. We were stressing about what we would do if we got quarantined ...not likely, but definitely not outside the realm of possibility, either.
We were supposed to be in an interior cabin. We only did that once before, but this time the price was just too good to pass up.
If we got quarantined, that would be a major problem, wouldn't it?
The recent quarantine of the Diamond Princess, a ship in the same line as the Regal Princess we were due to cruise on, had really gotten us thinking – what would we do if we got quarantined, either during or after the cruise, in our interior cabin on the ship? Here are some of my thoughts.
I would try to plan a schedule for both of us. It would be best if we planned out our days to some degree, with flexibility, of course. A schedule would place order in our days and help us to feel more normal, even in the midst of craziness.
An interior cabin isn't big, but we were supposed to be in a pretty big one – the Regal, being a new ship, has these interior cabins that are set horizontally to the sides of the ship, and they are fairly large. We had one of these. We actually would have some room to get into different areas from each other, and to exercise a little bit, both of which might be a good idea if we were cooped up for a long period of time.
A little preparation can go a long way. We packed a laptop, two iPads, two iPhones, a Kindle and five paper books along with us. On the Diamond Princess, the cruise line is also passing out cards and games.
We brought our Netflix password, and, if Princess would give any future ship (like ours) free internet and calls as they have the Diamond Princess, we would be able to watch whatever we want on our laptop. I understand they have also been including more TV stations plus more movies on the Diamond Princess, so I suspect they would do that if any other ships get quarantined.
I would explore what accommodations Princess was going to make. It appears that on the Diamond, the cruise staff are also doing some special programming like trivia contests, etc. that can be done via close-circuit channels. I would put some of these things into the aforementioned schedule.
We are planning to take some snacks with us, not something we generally do. Although Princess is more-than-adequately feeding everyone, I think a steady diet of cruise food, no matter how tasty, would get old, and some crunchy and sweet snacks would be very helpful. At the worst, we would wind up gifting these things to our cabin steward, if we don't use them.
There isn't much we can do about the lack of fresh air and outside exercise, unless Princess and the local authorities (wherever the ship would be quarantined)would allow interior passengers to walk outside a bit. There are conflicting reports about this from the Diamond, but it sounds like they are allowed outside once a day. I think it goes without saying that we would take advantage of any opportunities we had to get out and especially to walk around.
Most of all, we just hope this doesn't happen. We love cruising. We love Princess Cruises. None of this is their fault, and they appear to be handling this situation with grace, kindness and excellence.
We spent three days in Ft.Lauderdale prior to this cruise, and I'll write more about that, later. However, during that time we had the brilliant idea of asking our travel agent if a balcony room was available … just in case.
Because we have a ROCK STAR travel agent, we got an “obstructed” balcony – kind of obstructed, but not a big deal – for a great additional price. So we feel a lot better. But we have put some things into place even with that to keep ourselves healthy. Here they are:
We have yet to eat at the buffet on this trip. We've eaten in the main dining room for several meals, our room for a few, the open deck hamburger joint for one. We just think the buffet is also a buffet of germs and we're unwilling to go there yet. We know we wash our hands (20 seconds is the ticket) and even use hand sanitizer on top of that, but we don't want to count on everyone else. (We've seen too many people not using the hand sanitizers as they should.)
We are washing our hands. A lot. And using hand sanitizer.
We have NOT broken out the face masks, and nor has anyone else on our cruise, even the few Asians onboard.
We have tried to avoid the crowds. We have, however, gone to the production shows and an excellent comedian/magician one night.
UPDATE to the UPDATE
It's now several days in, and no one on our ship is overtly sick. Unlike the poor Caribbean Princess (incidentally one of our favorite Princess Cruises ships), no norovirus has broken out here. The Diamond Princess remains in Yokohama, unfortunately for the crew and passengers. Princess Cruises and most of the long-suffering passengers seem to be handling this with good spirits and sense.
We are still well. We have no issues. I think, with our track record, if there were issues out there to be had, we would have them. We don't. YAY!
So, overall, the Coronavirus is not as much of an issue as I feared it would be. And we feel confident that, with proper good-sense precautions, we can avoid the health issues of cruising – 'flu, norovirus, Coronavirus … and whatever else comes our way. Cruising is worth the slight risk!