I haven’t gotten too mad or upset or frustrated or blah, blah, blah, about a whole heck of a lot in this mess. The situation isn’t great – cruises are cancelled on our ship until the end of the year, a bunch of my friends will likely be at least temporarily out of a job, possibly losing their health insurance, and we are on the opposite side of the world from our families – but, Stuart and I are pretty much fine onboard. It’s not so bad. We embrace our inner Taylor Swift and “just keep cruising” and “shake it off” when necessary. Then, I read online today about some airlines not enforcing social distancing and that they are just, as in within the last week, requiring passengers to wear face masks.
All of this is happening and the CDC and the No Sail Order feel that “outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships pose a risk for rapid spread of disease beyond the voyage and into communities across the globe.” The passengers are gone – it’s just crew left trying to get home. COVID-19 has already spread. No where in the US that these few crew members are trying to get home to haven’t already been affected.
Even still, the No Sail Order says that a cruise ship crew member can’t go home unless they fly on a private charter plane because somehow they are a greater risk to the American public then the rest of the American public. In the CDC’s defense, there is a “case-by-case” basis option listed… but, thus far I personally don’t know of any being approved. A fun additional bit is that if you do get a private plane to an airport in the US you’ve only got 8 hours to get home by non-public transport (aka private vehicle). Anyone with familiarity with the geography of the US knows it’s a very big country. It takes far longer than 8 hours to get between many places – especially if you can only fly to certain airports across the country. How is that considered reasonable? There are still new cases in the US every day. Are you ensuring that every single other passenger on a plane doesn’t have COVID-19? Why is it that crew members are the lepers in this situation when the majority of the rest of the population has more of a chance of being an asymptomatic carrier than a cruise ship employee?
Many ships (including the one I am on) have been isolated and away from everything that’s going on so much more than everyone else. The risk of contamination to us has come from bringing on food and by the pilot that comes on every few weeks (if that depending on where we’re navigating.) The food is stored separately until the risk for it to be carrying COVID-19 has subsided and the pilot is in full PPE protective gear. The ship I have been on has been cruising around, working to repatriate crew, for 45 days and nearly every single one of us haven’t touched land since March 12 – 56 days ago – and yes, to reiterate it – we’re healthy.
Yes, there are crew on ships that have cases of COVID-19 and those situations are tragic and terrible and the B.S. involved in it is frustrating. It was well explained in this Facebook post by a friend of a friend. People are dying onboard, unable because of the red tape to get to a hospital and safety. The fact that crew are dying and facing challenges to get to land based medical facilities to effectively treat their illnesses is a humanitarian issue that certainly needs to be addressed.
But, you’re telling me, that random Joe Schmoe from a place like Georgia, one of the first states that is opening up again, is fine, totally fine, to fly on a commercial flight. Joe could easily be an asymptomatic carrier, but somehow my friends that have been quarantined on a ship for months at this point, totally healthy and virtually not exposed are not?
There was an article I read recently that says that “Royal Caribbean has been lying to its crew members for the past month, claiming that it is the fault of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that crew members are stuck at sea.” Well, you know what, maybe RCCL lied to their crew that it was the CDC, I don’t know, but here’s the thing – those requirements are completely ridiculous to me.
If someone can explain to me how a healthy cruise ship employee poses more of a threat to the health of the American public than the rest of the people on that airplane, I would appreciate understanding the science behind it. Otherwise, it seems that the CDC requirements are not there to protect the American public, but instead create barriers that continue to harm the U.S. citizens that want to – and, in some cases for mental health purposes – need to, go home.
Last week a man apparently jumped overboard from a Royal Caribbean ship. Unfortunately, isolation, monotony, and uncertainty cause increased mental stress. With many crew members onboard uncertain not only about when they will go home, but their future employment, staying positive can be challenging, and with no end in sight to the situation it can be daunting to face.
There are rules that are logical. But, not everyone has them. If the entire country of the United States was in full lock down and across all industries non-negotiable rules were set in place for the safety of everyone and then they enforced these rules for cruise ship crew, I’d be like, “yeah, okay, seems consistent with what else is happening in the country. Let’s flatten that curve and kick this things butt!” Here’s the thing though – it’s not. It’s not consistent. The entire country isn’t on lockdown, so why are you locking all of these people down?
People are protesting with guns because they don’t want to wear masks and they want the country to open back up. Why don’t you protest that there are restrictions for crew members at sea that are completely inconsistent with the restrictions facing the rest of the American public. Why don’t you fight for their rights to go home to their family?
I get that things are different now, and people need to adapt. I understand that. When I get off this ship (eventually) the world that I go to will be different than the one I left. Be consistent though. If you’re going to make the rules this crazy for some of your citizens, make it this crazy for all of your citizens. My guess is that those protestors would sure as hell have something to say about that.
I haven’t said too much about how ridiculous some of this is because at this point my rights are not being infringed upon in a way that negatively impacts me. I am onboard with my husband and am happy to stay onboard with him until he can go home. It’s better for both our mental health to stay in the same place. We don’t know what the rest of the year brings for his contracts and what our land-based quarantine situation will look like. So, we are choosing to be grateful to have as much time together now as we can.
Even though right now it isn’t affecting me personally doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say something. Watching someone suffer and doing and saying nothing to try to make it better for them or to make the suffering stop is as bad as causing it yourself.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – JFK. While this might not be evil, it’s certainly not fair and not upholding the values of American freedom, liberties, integrities, and rights that I would like to believe America is still capable of. The fact that I can write this is a liberty I do not take for granted.
There is hope for some as the woman in the USA Today story fighting to go home may be on a charter flight home in the coming days with some other American crew.
However, there are still many others wanting to go home. Additionally, easing some of these restrictions will make it more possible for officers and other necessary onboard personnel for minimum safe manning to return to the ship to offer relief for those that have been onboard far past their contract dates.
Cruise lines have already cancelled their cruises well into the fall and in some cases for the rest of the year. The “No Sail Order” extending until July 24th (far past the majority of states “stay-at-home” orders will expire – even my little state is starting to open up again) is putting unnecessary restrictions and challenges and undue harm to the US citizens wanting to return home. It is inconsistent with the restrictions enforced on the rest of the country and should be re-evaluated to ensure the immediate repatriation of US citizens to their homes, and would aid in the repatriation of others to their respective homes worldwide.