I am sure everyone has been closely following the news about the coronavirus out of China. But probably not as close as those of us on board our Around the World cruise with scheduled stops in many ports in Asia. Every night it seems this virus has increased in numbers and deaths, and has spread to other countries.
How is this affecting us? As I said in an earlier post, OCEANIA’S Insignia is healthy and everyone is being very careful with hand washing and the crew is working overtime wiping every surface. There is plastic over the buttons in the elevator and we are all encouraged to use the disinfectants located all over the ship and especially at the entrances to the restaurants and dining areas. Oceania is to be congratulated on its work in this area. So we are healthy!!
However, Oceania can’t control the world outside our ship, so there have been some changes.
First of all, they dropped all of our Chinese ports and added others in South Korea and Taipei and no one – passengers or crew – who have been in China in the past 30 days or so will be allowed to board.
Then more changes. Now as the virus is spreading, they have dropped all of our ports in Asia and we will not be heading north through the Japanese islands to Kamchatka, Russia, across the Bering Straight, and back down the west coast of Canada and the USA.
This means a change in our planned route, and Oceania is working very hard on creating a new itinerary for this Around the World cruise. My three cruising buddies who were to board in Tokyo have been advised that their cruise is cancelled and they will receive a refund. Obviously they are all disappointed.
I am also disappointed as I was really looking forward to my Overland Programs which included, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Panda Preserve in Chengdu China, and my favourite Kathmandu. I have been singing Bob Seeger’s, “I’m going to Kathmandu” for a year now. However, we all, I hope, understand the seriousness of this problem and realize these circumstances are certainly out of Oceania’s control.
So we wait to hear what our new Itinerary will be. There is some talk of heading back to Australia and New Zealand and then returning to the USA via French Polynesia and Hawaii. We have been told that if we want to end our cruise, we can do so in Cape Town, South Africa without penalty and will be given credit for this cruise, plus discounts on future cruises for the inconvenience.
This must be a nightmare for the cruise industry in general. I was told that to put this cruise in place, the plans were made two years ago with respect to ports and having fuel and food containers ready in those ports for us. Now they have a matter of days to change all of that, and we are probably not the only cruise ship vying for ports and supplies.
I will let you know when I hear more from Oceania and what I decide to do. My first thought was “I am on here anyway, so I will stay.” My second thought was “we are healthy now, but what if the virus got on board our ship?” So I am up in the air and will make my decision once I have all the facts.
In the meantime, I just want to assure all my friends and family that I am safe and happily enjoying this part of the world which is all new to me. Thank you all for your concern. I also want to thank Oceania for taking such good care of us. I know that whatever they decide will be in the best interest for all of us – passengers, crew and the company. They have a huge responsibility.