We live in a dynamic world and the moment we think all is going (relatively) well, the next thing happens. Last night I had barely posted my daily blog and the message from Stein Kruse came in that the whole fleet was going into a voluntarily lockdown for 30 days at the end of the current cruise. That means that our Noordam and Veendam are already out of service and that other ships are following step by step, when their cruise comes to an end. We, the ms Rotterdam are the exception, for the length of time we will still sail, due to the fact that we are making a Panama Canal cruise and we have to get to the other side. So the plan at the moment is to continue the cruise as scheduled and take it day by day, to see what the Virus is doing, to see what the Medical Profession is advising and to see how the politicians are reacting to it. Luckily the ms Rotterdam is safe and healthy and that is the most important thing. Our crew is sanitizing so much that “the paint is coming off the walls” and nobody has any symptoms or feels ill.
How that will work out for the coming ports, is any bodies guess. If one looks at the total cases by country, (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries) then we do not have much too worry about. There is very little going on in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua or Panama and hopefully our cruise will not be affected. These countries have of course also stepped up their precautions and for the first time in my life I had to fill out a Guatemalan Health Declaration. Luckily I know what Si and Non means and thus I could face the challenge. Once we are at the other side of the Panama Canal it will depend again on the various positions the individual Islands take as they all have another approach to the matter. And they are all making different decisions. We have to look at it day by day and hope that whatever happens we can still get our guests who will be leaving at the end of the cruise safely home. As of this moment, Fort Lauderdale has indicated that landing our guests, regardless of nationality, will not be a problem.
As I am the old and wise man on board (wise is a question mark, but old I certainly am in the eyes of the crew with 41 years at sea) the crew is asking if I ever had an experience like this before. And of course I have not; but it looks more and more to me as a combination of 9/11 and the onset of the Noro Virus combined. Noro made a lot of guests ill until the scientists of the CDC figured out what the most effective protocols were and with 9/11 most of the planes were not flying and the ships were sailing half empty. Now we have a sort of combination of the two things. No doubt for this a solution will be found as well. It was yesterday in the Dutch Newspapers that a Dutch University had found something that could be used on short notice against the Virus. So let’s hope that this is indeed true.
When things like these happen, I always try to see it in perspective. “Am I as a sailor so badly off…. Could it be worse? ” and I do not know what the exact answer is. But when I see what the older captains, and their generation went through in the wars, then it gives me food for thought. I have just uploaded the Biography of Captain Kruithof, who spent the whole of world war II at sea while going through the ranks and to see him sitting behind an Anti-Air Craft Gun sort of hits the message home of it all being relative.
With my captains research I am now nearing the generation of those who were (5 years) at sea during WWII and some amazing things are starting to surface. Great feats of daring took place but also the crews were sailing under great stress as the convoys were slow and the protection of the ships often inadequate against the attacks of the Germans or the Japanese. So while we are now preparing and dealing on the ships with the Virus, and we give it our utmost focus and attention, the question remains, are there worse things that happened?
Today we were in Puerto Vallarta and the authorities were more than happy with the way we deal with the potential threat. All the tours are going and our guests either have ventured out on shore or are enjoying a day on board (Most of our current guests have been here and bought the T shirt) We are the only ship in port and happily docked at the Cruise Terminal. As the port offers a bunker service nowadays, the Chief Engineer saw the chance to save a few pesos and we are loading fuel. I have started taking the cadets through a crash course of doing Stations Fore and Aft and they are learning “The Ropes” by doing “The Ropes”. Life goes on Regardless.
Tomorrow we have another sea day and I wonder how many turtles we will see while on the way to Huatalco. The wind in the Gulf of Tehuantepecr is behaving itself and thus things are looking good.