know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. –Paul
If that’s the case everyone on the MS Amsterdam’s 2020 world
cruise is a confirmed traveler. The
first half of the cruise went pretty much as planned. When we left Sitka on January 1st
none of us had heard about the Corona Virus. The virus wasn’t identified as a new bug until
several days after Amsterdam sailed on January 4. During the first month it was something that
was happening somewhere else. It didn’t
affect our trip until February 1 when we learned that our call at Palmer
Station, Antarctica, where scientists were supposed to come onboard to lecture
on their projects was canceled because they did not want to expose the small
station with limited medical resources to a potential viral threat.
Our awareness of the virus was sharpened on February 5 by
virus outbreak and quarantine of the Diamond Princess in Japan. The virus was still far away but people on
the ship started a betting pool on what day the captain would announce that we
would skip Singapore.
By the time we left the coast of South America February 11 it
was the elephant in the room, the often thought about but not much talked about
concern of the ship. By Tahiti on
February 22 the ship was taking extra precautions to protect us including
medical screening people who came on board as lecturers or entertainers. On February 28 we had a near miss in
Tonga. Three cruise ships before us were
turned away but we were allowed after a parliamentary debate and the ship’s
assurances that HAL had taken extra precautions. During our Tonga sail out the Captain told us
that the itinerary would be altered canceling Southeast Asian and other ports adding
ports in Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and India.
Someone won the Singapore pool.
Sydney was our midway stop.
64 days down, 64 (we thought) to go.
Sydney seemed normal when we were there. people went about their business, beaches,
restaurants and shops were crowded. However, there were news reports about fist fights
breaking out in stores over toilet paper.
But while we were in Sydney another cruise ship, the Ruby
Princess discharged passengers who had the corona virus
After Sydney things started unraveling. Ports were canceled, ports were added, dates
were changed and big asterisks “subject to change” were stuck on all the
remaining ports. But the next two
ports, Townsville and Cairns went off as planned. On March 14 (March 13 in headquarters) our
cruise was canceled. We learned about
it, not from anyone on the ship, but by reading it on the news on line. After that — chaos, would we call at Darwin,
Broome, Exmoor or Geraldton? (no). Would
we be allowed to leave the ship in Fremantle? It was a close thing but yes.
Those last 10 days the end we didn’t know where we were going. You can read the story in the blog posts
below. When did I first take note of the
virus in the blog? What were people
saying about it and when? How did it
affect life on the ship? What happened
during that chaotic final week? How did
we get home? And finally, why did Holland America choose a lecturer on Chaos
Theory to join us in Auckland? Read on.