Day 7 – Steaming toward Zihuatanejo, Mexico
If the nearly universal first question everyone asked about our 180-day circumnavigation of the globe on a cruise ship was, “How do you pack?” the next-most asked was, “What worries you about taking a six-month cruise?”
Rocketing as we are at 18 km/hour down the west coast of Mexico with a somewhat alarming shipboard announcement ringing in our ears, this is a perfect time to address the question.
A Lack of Imagination?
Call us unimaginative, but all our worries prior to sailing focused on getting to the ship, on time, whole and healthy, with all our luggage. No less than eight friends have broken, fractured or otherwise disabled bones or other vital body parts in the last 12 months (you know who you are!). We had seen first-hand what a sudden need for months of physical therapy can do to the best-laid travel plan. We didn’t worry much beyond avoiding that fate.
Once we reached fly-away day in one piece and then dodged storm and flood to arrive at our San Francisco departure city with a day to spare, then overcame Oceania Cruises’ accidental cancellation of all our hotel and ground arrangements, and boarded Insignia to find all our luggage at our stateroom door, we figured we were beyond worry. (At the well-organized Oceania Cruises desk in the lobby of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, we were told we didn’t exist. The happy faces in the photo below? Those were passengers who did exist.)
Sure, we had some open questions:.
- Would be allowed to dock in Peru, where the national state of emergency just got extended?
- Would we want to kill each other after six months of sharing 215 square feet?
- Would Doris (who has been known to get seasick just watching movies filmed on the water) get her sea legs before running out of motion sickness patches?
- Would we gain 50 pounds, individually or jointly, by the time we disembark?
- Would Doris get covid from the passenger who tested positive hours after he sat next to her for an hour-long bridge lesson?
None of these felt worthy of even mild fretting until the shipboard announcement.
The 0.3 Percent
The announcement came, literally, as Doris was typing the words above. It was an advisory that the ship’s officers and crew had resumed wearing N95 face masks to meet a new benchmark for safety whenever covid is detected on board. Vaccinated passengers had not been required to test for the virus before embarking. In lieu of universal testing, Oceania Cruises had now decided to lower the threshold for masking employees from 0.5 percent of the ship’s occupants having covid or close contact with a case to 0.3 percent.
At a masked-up happy hour shortly after the announcement, the cruise director assured guests there has not been an onboard covid outbreak, just a policy change. He estimated 0.3 percent of the combined staff and passengers was roughly three people.
This is obviously a gross understatement of current conditions. Doris’s bridge companion and the three other people at his table add up to four passengers right there, and we were surely not his only contacts. Just when we were beginning to recognize a few faces, at least half the people on the ship are now masked – all the employees and a hefty chunk of the passengers.
Will the number of infected grow? Will anybody get sick enough to require evacuation? Will the ship’s ability to staff services shrink if employees get sick? Are there enough empty cabins to stash a significant number of sick people or their roomies? Are we worried about any of this?
We are carrying plenty of masks and covid tests and even one course of Paxlovid. The room service selections served to patients are abundant so we won’t starve, and there is no other stretch of the journey it would be easier to miss than this one along the coast of Mexico and Central America, regions we know very well.
Still, truth be told, Doris dreamed overnight that she had tested positive and been confined to quarters. Does that mean we’re worrying? Not as long as her covid test looks like this.
Questions? Answers? Suggestions for what we should be worrying about? Use the comment function to send them our way, and Partout will do its best to answer on quiet days.