I am currently aboard the cruise ship Azamara Quest and it is the safest place in the world.
It is the safest place in the world because of the 220 passengers and 400 crew members aboard the ship, every one of them (us) has to be fully vaccinated against COVID and be able to show proof of status. You want to call my little California state issued vaccine card a vaccine passport go ahead because it fits neatly inside my federal government issued actual passport.
It is the safest place in the world because all 220 passengers and 400 crew members aboard the ship were required to take a COVID test at the dock before being allowed to get on board. So we all got swabbed and then were sent to sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes before receiving the results. Everyone had the same look on their face during that waiting period, the look of “what am I going to do if it comes back positive?”.
Not a one came back positive.
It is the safest place in the world because while on board all 220 passengers and 400 crew members must wear a mask unless outside or actively eating or drinking. Social distancing is actively practiced and passengers are reminded with signs and cheerful announcements from time to time. Surfaces are cleaned after every use and dining tables and deck chairs are placed far enough apart that there is little chance of accidental contact.
And all of this works because all 220 passengers and 400 crew members are fully aware of what a COVID outbreak would mean aboard a cruise ship. Remember back to the early days of the pandemic when cruise ships were considered incubators of COVID and several had to roam the seas looking for a place to dock that would allow their passengers to disembark and fly home. It was like a scene out of LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, only there was no magical realism to be invoked, only the reality of death and the possibility of death.
So we all play by the rules set by the cruise line and happily so. We passengers are happy little seafarers, accepting the reality of COVID, but not allowing it to deter us from living our lives. Got to wear a mask when inside? OK, no big deal. Can’t just grab some piece of food from the buffet line? Hey there is one of the 400 crew members there to generously serve it up to you. My deck chair is six feet from the other guy? OK we talk a bit louder to be able to hear each other, but that’s always been the situation onboard a ship anyway.
And you know what? This is by far the best cruise vacation I have ever been on. Partly because the ship is designed to hold 700 passengers so only having 220 means lots of extra room for all of us. Partly because all the passengers are literally in the same boat, no one wants to get COVID and no one wants to be the person who gives someone COVID.
But most of all, the 220 passengers are all taking this as a great adventure. Most of my fellow passengers have been on so many more cruises than my 40 odd sailings. All of us were tired of being stuck at home, afraid to venture out. What’s really amazing is that this cruise is probably 50% people from the United Kingdom and almost all of the ones I’ve spoken to mention in passing that they had COVID at one point, either the early stage version, Delta (remember that one?) or Omicron. Their attitude is I’m moving on with my life and this is one place I KNOW I won’t get COVID.
I was trying to come up with an analogy for how the cruise industry has reacted to COVID. I thought about Tylenol and it’s problem with randomly spiked bottles years ago. I thought of Firestone and their tires blowing out on Ford Explorers. Nothing seemed to quite fit until I thought of an almost exact same issue of a major industry being pushed to the edge of a cliff by a disease.
It was the cruise industry when Norovirus and Legionnaire’s Disease were rampant.
This industry has been through this before, they know how to handle it. All the safety precautions being taken are nearly the same as those taken in the days after both of those diseases spread through cruise ships. Admittedly COVID is a bit more lethal, but it’s the same idea, a virus that is communicated by air and attacks the human body through simple contact. The industry is using a playbook that has been used before and to great effect. They know what they are doing because they have done it before, successfully and to great acclaim.
So yes I am in the safest place in the world and I’m travelling through the Caribbean where the sun shines and the temperatures are in the 80s and I have a deck chair, a book, and a waiter brings me a cocktail (included in the price of the cruise).
I’ll let the wife’s (Cruella) favorite jazz musician play us out