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You can't make this stuff up...

Well, damn. OK, there are far worse words to describe what is happening around the world and in the cruise industry right now, but we want to keep this readable for all.

Those of us who are mature (a description I prefer to old) can remember other challenging times in our lives. Few of those, however, can compare with the current global pandemic that has, in short order, caused Italy to lock down its entire country, for a national health emergency be declared in the U.S. and for numerous states to shut down their school systems sending tens of millions of kids home to parents struggling with the possibility that they, too, may not be able to work.

In the midst of all this, travel and tourism has been hit devastatingly hard. Airlines have cut flights, hotels are somewhat empty, restaurants wait for the next customer and multiple cruise lines have cancelled all sailings for at least a month and some for more.

It hurts, especially for my wife who was due to sail on Princess with her best friend May 9. That cruise was a chance for them to get together since they live about 2,000 miles apart. It was to be a great time. Now, it’s rescheduling and trying to find a new cruise that fits both their busy schedules.

Travel has become an important part of our lives, as it is with hundreds of millions of people around the world. That’s why the current travel bans, the closing down of entire countries and the other changes seem so personal. We have visited Buckingham Palace and had tea in the Queen’s backyard, rode a gondola in Venice, sat with thousands of others during a mass by the Pope and stood in the Sistine Chapel, crawled into a pyramid at Cairo and stood in reverent silence among the graves at Normandy.

Viewing news reports from around the world, my wife and I watched excitedly when we saw places we had been, places once bustling with life, now empty. It’s especially true in Italy, one of our favorite countries. To see the streets we walked deserted and to see the historical sites that we marveled at now seemingly abandoned was, simply, just so sad.

That was true when we saw what was happening with Princess Cruises. We have cruised 16 times with Princess and enjoyed every one, including our three sailings on the Regal Princess, one of the ships caught in the coronavirus situation.

Every day brings new restrictions as countries try valiantly to “flatten the curve” and keep the virus from spreading. Our thoughts and prayers continue for those who are infected, and for the family and friends of those who have died.

For the rest of us, life is far from “normal,” no matter what your previous normal was. Self-isolating at home, washing your hands so often they are permanently pruned, watching a rerun of a rerun (including, of course, the Love Boat) . . . and let’s not forget the toilet paper hoarders! (Just when you thought people couldn't get crazier, they prove you wrong.)

While we would much rather be traveling the world, we know that is not in the immediate future. A Viking river cruise in late July is, as far as we know, still scheduled but that could change at any time. We’re also set for a Hawaii cruise on Princess in late October. Again, hopefully, we will sail for our first time to the islands.

In the meantime, we continue to think and start tentative planning for future trips in the U.S. and abroad. Optimism is what we all need a big dose of right now.

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