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My Vacation Cruise in Asia during the Wuhan Flu Scare

Copernicus

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My wife and I had booked a cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore on the Crystal Symphony. It departs on February 15. The cruise and flights were paid for in advance. Then the Wuhan coronavirus emerged bringing a wave of hysterical reaction around the world. Don't get me wrong. This flu virus is really serious. It causes pneumonia, and most of the deaths have been elderly people in my age group, albeit mostly in Wuhan itself. It is scary and needs to be taken seriously. Although, to put it in perspective, influenza kills thousands of people every year. I caught it a few years ago and was hospitalized for pneumonia. So I know the dangers. The problem with this virus is that it can remain asymptomatic for at least two weeks while still being contagious. Hence, checking people's temperatures is no guarantee that they are free of the virus.

So now what do we do? We still plan to go on the cruise, which has most of its stops in Vietnam, with one in Thailand and one in Cambodia. The flu seems to be spreading globally, but the worst will likely come when flu season starts in Autumn. Right now, existing strains of flu are probably causing more deaths than this coronavirus. In any case, the captain of the Symphony did not want to take chances, so he cancelled Hong Kong. Our ship now embarks on February 15 and departs on the 16th at 4 am. So we must scramble to get to Taipei, but the cruise line will have major problems in dealing with disgruntled passengers and staff. It will need to reschedule deliveries and shore maintenance issues. We will then head for Halong Bay (Hanoi area) and not have any direct stops in China. The ship itself will end up in Singapore, where we plan to spend two nights before returning home.

I'll use this thread to keep people updated on our situation. Right now, we are thinking to arrive in Hong Kong on our regularly scheduled flight and then catch a flight from there to Taipei. We have face masks, which are of questionable value in preventing infection, but we know to keep washing our hands at every opportunity. Beyond that, there isn't much that can be done.
 

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Coronaviruses and influenza viruses are completely different. Coronavirus isn't "flu".

A cruise seems like a bad idea during a pandemic; But there's no pandemic yet, and if coronavirus does become a pandemic, staying home just means you will die in familiar surroundings having missed out on your cruise experience.

I would suggest you go, enjoy the cruise, and don't worry too much about epidemiology. And if civilisation comes to an end due to coronavirus, at least you will have enjoyed one of the last luxuries of the old order.
 

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I suppose you can't go wrong either way. You go on cruise, nothing happens, you enjoyed cruise. Or you can go on cruise. Everyone is infected by that one idiot that had the virus... everyone dies. It'll be on the news. There is probably some wiggle room in between the two scenarios.

As a side note, it is my goal to drown to death in the swimming on a cruise ship.
 

Copernicus

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Coronaviruses and influenza viruses are completely different. Coronavirus isn't "flu".

That's right, but I didn't confuse the two. Both have similar symptoms, both are viruses, and both have high mortality rates. Avian flu is an influenza virus, but SARS is a coronavirus, as is the common cold usually. Coronaviruses are covered with what look like spikes, giving the appearance of spikes on a crown. Right now, influenza is killing more people than the Wuhan infection and actually poses the greater health risk, especially on a cruise ship. Given that our cruise is in Asia, the risk of the coronavirus making it onto the ship is much steeper than elsewhere.

A cruise seems like a bad idea during a pandemic; But there's no pandemic yet, and if coronavirus does become a pandemic, staying home just means you will die in familiar surroundings having missed out on your cruise experience.

I would suggest you go, enjoy the cruise, and don't worry too much about epidemiology. And if civilisation comes to an end due to coronavirus, at least you will have enjoyed one of the last luxuries of the old order.

Thanks, bilby. We are going to take your advice, so it's on you if we get sick and die. We'll drink a toast to you on the ship (open bar). They also include unlimited internet for all passengers, so I can say goodbye to all my friends at TFT before I go. :wave2:

I would probably not have scheduled this trip, had there been a perceived threat of a pandemic, but it is all paid for. Unfortunately, we booked economy on Singapore Air, which is one of the best airlines. However, they are only giving refunds now for trips to mainland China, not Hong Kong. They told us that they would do nothing special for anyone going to Hong Kong, but I don't think the risk of using Hong Kong airport is actually greater than for other international airports. Other major airlines are including Hong Kong and even rebooking people without charging a penalty. The problem is that a lot of people from Wuhan visited sites in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, where the ship is going. Thailand is particularly worried about infections breaking out in major tourist sites. Wuhan tourists apparently got around to a lot of tourist sites in Asia while contagious. Singapore also has had some cases already. Oh, well, I'm just depressing myself now.
:shrug:
 

Copernicus

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Saw an article about the issue with cruises now because of the virus.

The woman on the Costa ship in Italy only had common influenza, which is currently a much more serious problem for all cruise ship passengers. I myself have fallen victim to it in the past and had to be hospitalized with pneumonia after getting home.

See Costa Smeralda Cleared; Passenger Had 'Common Flu'

But the article is quite right that the Wuhan virus is going to have a huge impact on the cruise industry. The cruise line that I am using--Crystal Cruises--only has two ocean-going ships. Although mine was scheduled to depart from Hong Kong originally, the company suddenly changed the embarkation port to Taipei. There are still ships with Hong Kong as the scheduled embarkation port, and they are going to have a hard time finding alternative ports. Crystal was wise to get out ahead of the rush and secure Taipei for its follow-on cruises, as well. Meanwhile, some airlines are cancelling flights to Hong Kong or, at least, reducing the number of flights. So airline companies with a large Asia business will be hit hard, as well.

We were going to keep our original flight to Hong Kong and then get on a flight to Taipei without leaving the airport there. However, we are now looking for alternative flights that do not route through Hong Kong. The problem is that flights to Hong Kong may be cancelled because of the new US 'no travel' warning for China, even though it seems to exclude Hong Kong. Singapore Air told us that they would allow us to cancel our flight without penalty, but they can't get us a reasonable alternative to Taipei. So we are still scrambling--perhaps a direct flight from Seattle to Taipei will be possible.
 

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You get to a point where you are too old to worry about dying, because dying is a certainty in the not too distant future regardless, which sets you free to do as you please, take cruises, tour China, walk through crowded markets, or whatever, without a care in the world.
 

Copernicus

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You get to a point where you are too old to worry about dying, because dying is a certainty in the not too distant future regardless, which sets you free to do as you please, take cruises, tour China, walk through crowded markets, or whatever, without a care in the world.

Yes, but I have not yet reached that point. My inclination is to postpone it as long as possible. :)
 

Copernicus

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Singapore Air just allowed all passengers to Hong Kong to cancel non-refundable tickets without penalty, so we cancelled our flight. Then we booked an EVA open jaw round trip on United points, so very little out-of-pocket and no contact with China. So we really lucked out. The airlines are being quite reasonable about this, but the hysteria is above and beyond reality. The mortality rate for this coronavirus is still less than for SARS.
 

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Singapore Air just allowed all passengers to Hong Kong to cancel non-refundable tickets without penalty, so we cancelled our flight. Then we booked an EVA open jaw round trip on United points, so very little out-of-pocket and no contact with China. So we really lucked out. The airlines are being quite reasonable about this, but the hysteria is above and beyond reality. The mortality rate for this coronavirus is still less than for SARS.

Most airlines are either allowing such cancellations or have outright cancelled the flights. Airlines are usually quite reasonable about such matters when the flight involves a disaster area, whatever the cause of the disaster. We canceled a flight into China back in the days of SARS this way.

As for the mortality rate being lower--the R0 is a lot higher, though--the death toll in China has already surpassed SARS and we have no doubt seen only the tip of the iceberg so far. The trend line for the number of cases is still inflecting up, there's a lot more to come. And given the very even linear nature of the line it looks strongly like a capacity limit on diagnosis and not the true numbers.
 

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Singapore Air just allowed all passengers to Hong Kong to cancel non-refundable tickets without penalty, so we cancelled our flight. Then we booked an EVA open jaw round trip on United points, so very little out-of-pocket and no contact with China. So we really lucked out. The airlines are being quite reasonable about this, but the hysteria is above and beyond reality. The mortality rate for this coronavirus is still less than for SARS.

Most airlines are either allowing such cancellations or have outright cancelled the flights. Airlines are usually quite reasonable about such matters when the flight involves a disaster area, whatever the cause of the disaster. We canceled a flight into China back in the days of SARS this way.

As for the mortality rate being lower--the R0 is a lot higher, though--the death toll in China has already surpassed SARS and we have no doubt seen only the tip of the iceberg so far. The trend line for the number of cases is still inflecting up, there's a lot more to come. And given the very even linear nature of the line it looks strongly like a capacity limit on diagnosis and not the true numbers.

I am very skeptical that the earlier SARS figure was accurate, so I am not convinced that the current coronavirus has actually surpassed SARS, not that it really matters. China seems to have learned a lesson about the stupidity of trying to suppress information about possible epidemics. Contrary to their expectations, contagious diseases spread more rapidly when people don't know they are living at ground zero. So it is better to be truthful, no matter how painful the truth is.

One cruise line--Celebrity--has announced that they will not even let people who have passed through Hong Kong to board a ship. So this couple that traveled from the UK to Singapore via a stopover in Hong Kong had a little problem. Their flight stopped at Hong Kong, but it went on to Singapore. They were on the same aircraft and had the same seats. However, they were required to exit the aircraft while it was being serviced. They were then required to go through a security check again before reboarding the aircraft. This took about an hour. When they got to Singapore, Celebrity refused to let them board their ship, even though they had no symptoms and had only been in the airport for an hour. They did get a full refund but had to then turn around and take that long flight back home. It also stopped in Hong Kong again, and they were forced to leave the aircraft and go through security again. Only, this time, the airport staff took their temperature on the way back onto the plane. Needless to say, they were a bit depressed.

So far, we are happy that our flight will not touch mainland China and will go directly to Taipei, where we board the ship. However, we still have over a week to go before getting there, and anything can happen. In fact, a huge Chinese ship from Guangzhou--the World Dream--had three confirmed cases of coronavirus. The ship changed its embarkation port to the same port--Keelung--where my wife and I will board our ship. So we are a little concerned about that, since they could contaminate local folks who will be assisting with our embarkation process. The Chinese Ship had visited a couple of the Vietnam ports that we will be visiting while those passengers were on the ship, so there is some risk in visiting places like Halong Bay and Danang. I expect that Vietnam will have a lot more cases by the time we get there. We will come loaded with Purell, Clorox wipes, gloves, masks, and some eye protection. The vacation may not be as relaxing as we had hoped, but it will be an adventure. :worried:
 

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Singapore Air just allowed all passengers to Hong Kong to cancel non-refundable tickets without penalty, so we cancelled our flight. Then we booked an EVA open jaw round trip on United points, so very little out-of-pocket and no contact with China. So we really lucked out. The airlines are being quite reasonable about this, but the hysteria is above and beyond reality. The mortality rate for this coronavirus is still less than for SARS.

Most airlines are either allowing such cancellations or have outright cancelled the flights. Airlines are usually quite reasonable about such matters when the flight involves a disaster area, whatever the cause of the disaster. We canceled a flight into China back in the days of SARS this way.

As for the mortality rate being lower--the R0 is a lot higher, though--the death toll in China has already surpassed SARS and we have no doubt seen only the tip of the iceberg so far. The trend line for the number of cases is still inflecting up, there's a lot more to come. And given the very even linear nature of the line it looks strongly like a capacity limit on diagnosis and not the true numbers.

I am very skeptical that the earlier SARS figure was accurate, so I am not convinced that the current coronavirus has actually surpassed SARS, not that it really matters. China seems to have learned a lesson about the stupidity of trying to suppress information about possible epidemics. Contrary to their expectations, contagious diseases spread more rapidly when people don't know they are living at ground zero. So it is better to be truthful, no matter how painful the truth is.

One cruise line--Celebrity--has announced that they will not even let people who have passed through Hong Kong to board a ship. So this couple that traveled from the UK to Singapore via a stopover in Hong Kong had a little problem. Their flight stopped at Hong Kong, but it went on to Singapore. They were on the same aircraft and had the same seats. However, they were required to exit the aircraft while it was being serviced. They were then required to go through a security check again before reboarding the aircraft. This took about an hour. When they got to Singapore, Celebrity refused to let them board their ship, even though they had no symptoms and had only been in the airport for an hour. They did get a full refund but had to then turn around and take that long flight back home. It also stopped in Hong Kong again, and they were forced to leave the aircraft and go through security again. Only, this time, the airport staff took their temperature on the way back onto the plane. Needless to say, they were a bit depressed.

So far, we are happy that our flight will not touch mainland China and will go directly to Taipei, where we board the ship. However, we still have over a week to go before getting there, and anything can happen. In fact, a huge Chinese ship from Guangzhou--the World Dream--had three confirmed cases of coronavirus. The ship changed its embarkation port to the same port--Keelung--where my wife and I will board our ship. So we are a little concerned about that, since they could contaminate local folks who will be assisting with our embarkation process. The Chinese Ship had visited a couple of the Vietnam ports that we will be visiting while those passengers were on the ship, so there is some risk in visiting places like Halong Bay and Danang. I expect that Vietnam will have a lot more cases by the time we get there. We will come loaded with Purell, Clorox wipes, gloves, masks, and some eye protection. The vacation may not be as relaxing as we had hoped, but it will be an adventure. :worried:

Safe travels!
 

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Yeah, I hope you have boat travels at all. The cruise lines seem to be getting a little worried in SE Asia. Overall, health issues are probably the least of the worries. Cancelled cruise would be a lot more likely.
 

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Yeah, I hope you have boat travels at all. The cruise lines seem to be getting a little worried in SE Asia. Overall, health issues are probably the least of the worries. Cancelled cruise would be a lot more likely.

They can't really cancel cruises, just move ships to different ports and itineraries. The last cruise I was on in the Caribbean had been scheduled to stop at Cuba, but Trump blew that option away. So the ship ended up going to much less interesting ports, but still had guest speakers on board who were specialists on Cuba. Passengers are often given some form of compensation when these deviations happen.

The ship I will be on is a fairly small ship and will likely end up with quite a few no-shows--my guess is around 650 out of a possible 850 passengers will be on board. It is one of the best cruise companies out there, so we expect to be treated well and kept safe. They have already announced stringent checks at boarding and a more extreme regimen of cleaning and sanitation. They made sure to pick up extra face masks and materials at a port in Guam. They have also announced that shore excursions will need to comply with stricter cleaning and sanitation rules, although I'm not optimistic that they can do much about the fact that tourist areas are more likely to be infected than other places. We may end up with more sea days than planned.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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Yeah, I hope you have boat travels at all. The cruise lines seem to be getting a little worried in SE Asia. Overall, health issues are probably the least of the worries. Cancelled cruise would be a lot more likely.

They can't really cancel cruises, just move ships to different ports and itineraries. The last cruise I was on in the Caribbean had been scheduled to stop at Cuba, but Trump blew that option away. So the ship ended up going to much less interesting ports, but still had guest speakers on board who were specialists on Cuba. Passengers are often given some form of compensation when these deviations happen.

The ship I will be on is a fairly small ship and will likely end up with quite a few no-shows--my guess is around 650 out of a possible 850 passengers will be on board. It is one of the best cruise companies out there, so we expect to be treated well and kept safe. They have already announced stringent checks at boarding and a more extreme regimen of cleaning and sanitation. They made sure to pick up extra face masks and materials at a port in Guam. They have also announced that shore excursions will need to comply with stricter cleaning and sanitation rules, although I'm not optimistic that they can do much about the fact that tourist areas are more likely to be infected than other places. We may end up with more sea days than planned.
That's good to hear. We'll remember you fondly. :D

Or possibly visa versa. :eek:
 

Copernicus

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You may not be getting rid of me so fast, Jimmy. Taiwan has just banned all cruise ships from docking, effective immediately. That means that our ship will not be docking in Taipei next week. We are awaiting an update from the cruise line, as this news is just hours old. Hong Kong and the Philippines are also turning away cruise ships.

The Wuhan coronavirus is quickly developing into a global panicdemic.
 

Loren Pechtel

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You may not be getting rid of me so fast, Jimmy. Taiwan has just banned all cruise ships from docking, effective immediately. That means that our ship will not be docking in Taipei next week. We are awaiting an update from the cruise line, as this news is just hours old. Hong Kong and the Philippines are also turning away cruise ships.

The Wuhan coronavirus is quickly developing into a global panicdemic.

The problem is it's contagious before symptoms show up. They want to avoid it becoming a pandemic. The data out of China is obviously bad (I don't think there's any substantial deliberate deception, but the system is overloaded. If nothing else, look at the infected numbers--the continue to go up linearly. Really? That looks far more like a capacity limit in testing) so we can't really evaluate what the threat is.
 

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That's true, Loren, but they've already rescheduled the embarkation port to Singapore, which we are much more familiar with. The cruise is now round-trip to Singapore. We may be able to simply continue on to Singapore without extra expense from the airline, since they are flying half-empty aircraft anyway. So we are giving very strong consideration to staying with the cruise, even if it doesn't make a lot of port stops. There are a number of reasons why that remains a consideration for us, so we are looking at our options. The Wuhan flu is really bad, but we will take extreme precautions. The ship we are on is relatively small and will likely have many fewer passengers than would normally be there. That's not to say that the risk is minimal. We are still deciding what to do.
 

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You may not be getting rid of me so fast, Jimmy. Taiwan has just banned all cruise ships from docking, effective immediately. That means that our ship will not be docking in Taipei next week. We are awaiting an update from the cruise line, as this news is just hours old. Hong Kong and the Philippines are also turning away cruise ships.
Sorry to hear that. I mean, yes... the real sympathy should be reserved for those dying and suffering from the outbreak... but sometimes a little First World sympathy is in order. ;)

The Wuhan coronavirus is quickly developing into a global panicdemic.
Well, one cruise had it, and it has spread to 60+ people. Granted, impossible to tell who had it already. But it does seem to spread easily. Of course, that 60 people aren't all dead either, but it needs to be contained.

You may not be getting rid of me so fast, Jimmy. Taiwan has just banned all cruise ships from docking, effective immediately. That means that our ship will not be docking in Taipei next week. We are awaiting an update from the cruise line, as this news is just hours old. Hong Kong and the Philippines are also turning away cruise ships.

The Wuhan coronavirus is quickly developing into a global panicdemic.

The problem is it's contagious before symptoms show up.
Isn't that still allegedly?
 

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There are a few reports of contagion before symptoms show up, but that also happens with common cold viruses and influenza. The issue, I suppose, is that the incubation period can be up to 14 days before symptoms show, and there is a fear that infected people can spread contamination without even knowing they are sick.

Right now, we are still debating whether to go to Singapore. The number of cases are higher there than in most other places outside of China, but infection rates are still very low in comparison to previous epidemics.
 

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We boarded the ship in Singapore yesterday and are on the first day of the cruise. Singapore itself was missing the crowded streets, since a lot of tourists have stayed away and citizens are not doing a lot of shopping. The embarkation lounge was totally empty when we arrived shortly after noon. The hall was filled with attendants, who would normally manage the crowds. We got a lot of attention and assistance. :eagerness:

We are now told that only about 150 passengers came aboard, although the ship can take about 800. This is the smallest number of passengers that they have ever had, and the ship feels almost empty. It is a little like having your own private ship-sized yacht with unlimited food, drinks, and entertainment. One of the speakers this morning was a marine biologist, Michael Despazio, who has authored lots of science books for children and been involved in a number of science projects. Another was a former top diplomat in the British government during Theresa May's tenure. So the experience is almost what one would normally get on a Crystal cruise, but without the normal crowd.

In a couple of days, we will (hopefully) dock at Chan Mai, Vietnam, where we will take an excursion into Hue. On Friday, the Vietnamese government turned away two cruise ships, but our ship has not yet been told that it would be denied entry. After a couple of days, we move on for a three-day stop in Saigon. On the previous cruise from Guam to Singapore (a change from the scheduled destination of Hong Kong, where we were originally supposed to embark), not a single port would allow the ship to dock, even though it had no infected passengers onboard. So the captain and crew have had a lot of experience with that sort of thing. At one port, they actually did not know they would be denied entry until they were within an hour of arrival.
 

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I will miss you.

Unlikely, since our chances of exposure are so low now. Instead, we have a largely empty cruise ship will full services--superb cuisine in a variety of restaurants, an open bar, great live entertainment and enrichment lectures, and plenty of time to relax. We are now told that there are only 120 paying passengers, so the cruise line is taking a huge loss just to ferry us around for a couple of weeks. Most of the food gets dumped, since there aren't enough people to consume it all. We don't know whether any ports will let us dock, but, TBH, our primary interest was the onboard experience, less so the ports.

We've never been to Hue, but the ship will dock at Chan Mai, which is at least an hour's drive closer. They have at least two tour buses booked to go there, so we will see it, if Vietnam does not refuse us entry. So far, this is a far more stress-free, enjoyable cruise than we anticipated. We are getting to meet a lot of crew members, many of whom are Ukrainian. There are also a few Russians. So I am getting a chance to practice my Russian and a couple of other languages.

ETA: As compensation for showing up, the company is giving us back half of what we paid on a future cruise credit (FCC). Those who elected not to come, got a full 100% FCC, but ours is obviously the better bargain. Not only do we get this very interesting experience, but we will get a substantial discount on our next cruise with this company.
 

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Glad this is working out for you two. Hopefully the food and what not is as good as it would have been. 150 people is still a good deal of people to cook for, so they hopefully aren't bologna and cheesing it for you.
 

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I'm glad that you're enjoying the cruise, especially since the ship is so empty. I hope the rest of your vacation goes well. You are certainly adventurous.
 

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Glad this is working out for you two. Hopefully the food and what not is as good as it would have been. 150 people is still a good deal of people to cook for, so they hopefully aren't bologna and cheesing it for you.

Crystal is one of the best cruise lines in its category for food, and I haven't noticed any change in quality or quantity. They have curtailed services for some venues, e.g. alternating nights for a couple of restaurants.

I'm glad that you're enjoying the cruise, especially since the ship is so empty. I hope the rest of your vacation goes well. You are certainly adventurous.

Even with an empty ship, most people seem to attend the activities, and the energy in the audience can be lively. We have one guest science lecturer, marine biologist  Michael A. DiSpezio, who is very entertaining and informative on a wide range of subjects. The other, Ambassador Sir  Mark Lyall Grant, gives lectures on world and regional history and politics. He served under Cameron and May, so he has a lot of first hand impressions of personalities and US-UK politics. The evening entertainment is first rate. So the only strangeness is that most of the ship seems empty between events. The events themselves are the same as when the ship is full, but there are no lines or difficulties in finding a seat where one's vision isn't blocked. Also, you get to interact a lot with guest entertainers, lecturers, and ship personnel. On the whole, I am very glad that I did not chicken out, like the main herd did. And the company is giving us a 50% future cruise credit just for showing up.

We are optimistic about getting to see the old imperial capital of Hue tomorrow. Everyone has been given entry cards. After that, we make our way to Ho Chi Minh City for three days. Ultimately, we may be refused docking at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, but there is nothing for us to do there anyway. That is where the Westerdam was disembarked a few days ago, under the assumption that it had no sick passengers. In fact, one of the passengers tested positive at the airport, so now international authorities are scrambling to test other passengers who left the ship. Very embarrassing for local authorities, who let the ship dock when nobody else would. Hence, they may feel compelled to turn away all cruises ships. We'll find out.
 

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I'll post pictures at a later time, when I have more time and a real computer.

Hue was beautiful, but everywhere is a bit deserted without all the Chinese and other tourists. We visited the Mekong River delta yesterday, which was the highlight of the trip so far.

Our Crystal cruise ship has finally decided to cancel its remaining Asia tours, so our ship will likely be the last cruise ship to visit Vietnam this season. We are in Saigon now, but we leave for A stop on Kosamui Thailand tomorrow. After that, we stop at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, before returning to Singapore. The ship feels very much like a luxurious private yacht party. Bizarre, but an interesting experience that won't likely happen again. The cruise industry has suffered a tremendous blow from this epidemic scare, but so has the entire Asian economy. I don't see how we avoid a worldwide economic slowdown as the effects on the tourist industry ripple through the economy. Shops and markets everywhere are practically deserted now.
 

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I'll post pictures at a later time, when I have more time and a real computer.

Hue was beautiful, but everywhere is a bit deserted without all the Chinese and other tourists. We visited the Mekong River delta yesterday, which was the highlight of the trip so far.

Our Crystal cruise ship has finally decided to cancel its remaining Asia tours, so our ship will likely be the last cruise ship to visit Vietnam this season. We are in Saigon now, but we leave for A stop on Kosamui Thailand tomorrow. After that, we stop at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, before returning to Singapore. The ship feels very much like a luxurious private yacht party. Bizarre, but an interesting experience that won't likely happen again. The cruise industry has suffered a tremendous blow from this epidemic scare, but so has the entire Asian economy. I don't see how we avoid a worldwide economic slowdown as the effects on the tourist industry ripple through the economy. Shops and markets everywhere are practically deserted now.

You cannot live forever by taking in each other's dirty laundry, or by gaping at one another's "tourist treasures".
 

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I'll post pictures at a later time, when I have more time and a real computer.

Hue was beautiful, but everywhere is a bit deserted without all the Chinese and other tourists. We visited the Mekong River delta yesterday, which was the highlight of the trip so far.

Our Crystal cruise ship has finally decided to cancel its remaining Asia tours, so our ship will likely be the last cruise ship to visit Vietnam this season. We are in Saigon now, but we leave for A stop on Kosamui Thailand tomorrow. After that, we stop at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, before returning to Singapore. The ship feels very much like a luxurious private yacht party. Bizarre, but an interesting experience that won't likely happen again. The cruise industry has suffered a tremendous blow from this epidemic scare, but so has the entire Asian economy. I don't see how we avoid a worldwide economic slowdown as the effects on the tourist industry ripple through the economy. Shops and markets everywhere are practically deserted now.

You cannot live forever by taking in each other's dirty laundry, or by gaping at one another's "tourist treasures".

You can't live forever by trading electronics back and forth either.

But Apple is nevertheless a very successful corporation, and has generated vast wealth.

No one industry, service, or activity - except subsistence farming - can meet your (rather bizarre) criterion. Tourism is a service industry that forms one small part of the world economy, and like most industries, some locations, regions, and nations do more of it than others.

Silicon valley would be an economic disaster area, if concentrating on one non-subsistence activity were somehow a bad idea in and of itself.
 

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Sounds like you are having fun! What a unique experience.

Absolutely. My wife and I are really glad that we decided to go, although we won't be so happy if we do manage to become infected. The risk still seems small relative to all the reaction and panic found in news headlines. Since 16 passengers will get off the ship for a side excursion to Angkor Wat for two days, we will be down to just over 100 paying passengers. Some of us have been calling it a "ghost ship", but it has been a great opportunity to meet the crew and get to know them better than we normally would. One bonus for them is that they get to eat all the gourmet food that we can't consume. Most of the food stock onboard will simply be dumped or given away.
 

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Looking for more trip blogging!
 

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My Vacation Cruise in Asia during the Wuhan Flu Scare


Seems like going to have a terrible story to read but i have a worth reading. Be safe have fun, like is precious.
 

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Since the cruise reported on in this thread, my wife and I had not traveled on a cruise ship or attempted to book a cruise until recently. Most cruise lines appear to have survived by offering cruises that subsequently got cancelled. Since customers had to put money down to book a cruise, that money had to be refunded or turned into "future cruise credit" when the cruise got cancelled during the pandemic. So cruise lines were partially surviving on these bookings as a form of interest-free loan.

Now many cruise lines are offering actual cruises again, and we decided to book a cruise from Seattle to Alaska. This was on the Princess Majestic and left for a 7-day cruise (Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan). Although we much prefer smaller ships, we were able to book a fairly inexpensive balcony cabin with a full drink package. Although we had never booked a Princess cruise before, Alaska is one of the routes that they specialize in. We had been to Alaska twice before, so we really didn't plan to get off at the ports. This was just to enjoy the ship and see what they had to offer. Besides, we only had to take an Uber from our house to the ship.

Health safety was a big concern of ours, but all passengers and crew had to be vaccinated and wear masks while inside. I felt safer on the ship than in a local supermarket, where there are always some customers these days who want to pretend that the pandemic is over. On the ship, we only removed masks in our cabin or while eating/drinking. Compliance was nearly perfect among passengers, although most people were lax about social distancing.

The greatest health safety challenge was actually our Uber trip from home to the port. The young driver popped out of his car with his nose hanging over his mask, so my wife asked him to adjust it. After we got in his car and were on the road, he told us that he was unvaccinated and proceeded to harangue us for the entire trip about his reasons for why he felt justified in not getting vaccinated. He said he wanted to hear out side of the story, but he would barely stop talking to let us get a word in edgewise. Naturally, we lodged a complaint with Uber, but I soon learned that both Lyft and Uber have made a conscious decision not to require their drivers to be vaccinated. They apparently do that because drivers are now hard to attract for them, but I suggested they simply let passengers know whether a potential driver was vaccinated. I do not believe that they have any interest in adopting my suggestion. They don't want passengers to shop around for vaccinated drivers. Needless to say, Uber apologized profusely and said that that driver would never be linked to us in the future. On our way back from the port today, our Lyft driver volunteered the information that he was vaccinated, so we felt safer with him.

Alaska cruises are so cheap now, that we have booked another one 12 days from now. This one will be on the comparably-sized Royal Caribbean Ovation. Instead of a balcony, we will be in an inside cabin with a so-called "virtual balcony". That is, there will be a large video screen on one wall that will display a view from a dedicated balcony cabin. So we are curious to see how much it cuts down on the claustrophobic experience of an inside cabin.
 

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I’d like to get to Alaska. I am not a cruise-line person - it just doesn’t match my usual vacation style - but I’ve heard Alaska may be the one time to try it. Sounds like a nice trip you had. Do you expect any opportunity to upgrade your cabin? I hear that happens sometimes.

What makes you want to go again so soon? Is it the atmosphere of the cruise and so a duplicate trip is not really duplicate?
 

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I’d like to get to Alaska. I am not a cruise-line person - it just doesn’t match my usual vacation style - but I’ve heard Alaska may be the one time to try it. Sounds like a nice trip you had. Do you expect any opportunity to upgrade your cabin? I hear that happens sometimes.

What makes you want to go again so soon? Is it the atmosphere of the cruise and so a duplicate trip is not really duplicate?

My wife and I love to travel, and we always took land trips until about 8 years ago. Then we took a transatlantic from Florida to Rome, and we enjoyed it a lot more than we expected. The idea of having a floating hotel with all-inclusive meals, free entertainment and activities, interesting destinations, and the opportunity to meet a lot of new people attracted us to continue. Also, we aim to keep our daily cost for the trip down to roughly $100/pp per day, if possible, and that can be substantially cheaper than land trips that we take. So most of our travel is now by cruise ship. Most of the world's greatest cities are located on coasts or within easy access of a coast, since sea ports were so strategically important in the past.

Complimentary cabin upgrades do happen, and we have had some great free upgrades in the past. Nowadays, cruise lines will try to "upsell" customers to a higher grade of cabin before the trip, but they still shift some people around in order to free up cabins that they can sell more easily as embarkation day approaches.

We are traveling back to Alaska in about a week because the price was simply too good to pass up--$289/pp for a 7-day cruise. I'm not a fan of these monster ships, and Royal Caribbean is not my favorite line. But we do have some status on that line from previous cruise trips, and the ship will only be about 60% of capacity. I much prefer smaller ships, but they tend to be more expensive than the monster ships. Besides, I expect that the COVID crisis is going to last for several more years at least, and we're not getting any younger. We're both in our 70s and don't know how much longer we'll be healthy enough to travel. So we'll grab the opportunities as they come.
 

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Also smiling nostalgically at this thread title. “Wuhan Flu Scare.”
 

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We did have something of a bizarre incident on this trip. About halfway through it at 12:30 am, there was a sudden announcement "Man overboard! Man overboard! Port side!" We were already asleep, but everyone was ordered to return to their cabins. They announced that the ship was turning back to search the area, and two rescue craft were dispatched. Then we were told that everyone was to assemble at their muster stations but not to bring life jackets. The general alarm was sounded. So we all had to dress quickly and assemble in the designated areas. Some people came in bathrobes. We all sat about for half an hour while every single person in the crew and passenger list were verified. After everyone was confirmed safe, they released us back to our cabins.

We never learned the details of what happened to cause the alarm, but no one had gone overboard. This was an interesting test of the ability of the ship to assemble passengers and crew quickly for a real emergency, and they did a very good job. The few passengers who (inevitably) did not show up at their muster stations were tracked down relatively quickly. All of us had been issued medallions with RFID chips that signaled our locations, so the task was not as difficult as it might have been on other ships. This is a new technology that Princess Cruises introduced recently, and it worked very nicely.
 

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Also smiling nostalgically at this thread title. “Wuhan Flu Scare.”

Right. When I started this thread, the reported outbreak was still largely confined the the Wuhan province in China, although we now know that the Trump administration and Congress had been well enough informed for a number of them to rush out to engage in insider stock trading deals.
 

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I’d like to get to Alaska. I am not a cruise-line person - it just doesn’t match my usual vacation style - but I’ve heard Alaska may be the one time to try it. Sounds like a nice trip you had. Do you expect any opportunity to upgrade your cabin? I hear that happens sometimes.

What makes you want to go again so soon? Is it the atmosphere of the cruise and so a duplicate trip is not really duplicate?

Same. I’d only do a cruise because I’d like to see the shoreline from the water. Actually same for the Mediterranean. On one hand, I’d enjoy the views and generally enjoy being in the water. On the other hand, even pre-pandemic, cruise ships strike me as huge floating Petri dishes.
 

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I’d like to get to Alaska. I am not a cruise-line person - it just doesn’t match my usual vacation style - but I’ve heard Alaska may be the one time to try it. Sounds like a nice trip you had. Do you expect any opportunity to upgrade your cabin? I hear that happens sometimes.

What makes you want to go again so soon? Is it the atmosphere of the cruise and so a duplicate trip is not really duplicate?

Same. I’d only do a cruise because I’d like to see the shoreline from the water. Actually same for the Mediterranean. On one hand, I’d enjoy the views and generally enjoy being in the water. On the other hand, even pre-pandemic, cruise ships strike me as huge floating Petri dishes.

They are, but things have changed a lot on ships because of COVID. Everyone wears masks in public areas now, although they take them off for food and drinks. Everyone had to have proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID test just to board the ship. There are testing facilities on board and procedures for quarantining and contact tracing when someone with symptoms tests positive. It is still a bigger risk, IMO, to travel on public transportation, where there are few, if any, such requirements for fellow passengers. I don't want to minimize the risk. It is still riskier than staying home and social distancing, but we can't stop living our lives until the crisis passes. That doesn't seem likely to happen for years, thanks to those who doggedly resist common sense measures to control the contagion. Businesses like cruise lines simply have to adjust by controlling their environments as best they can.

It is possible to take a land trip to Alaska, but that is probably riskier than a cruise, given that it is a red state, and it doesn't even have a statewide mask mandate. Only half the population is fully vaccinated. Moreover, you can't go everywhere, and places like Juneau are almost impossible to get to except by air and sea. You can only see the glaciers from ships that have special permission to get into the parks.

From our cabin balcony in Glacier National Park:

IMG_20210909_134830_cropped.jpg

Marjerie Glacier in Glacier National Park

IMG_20210909_095047crp.jpg
 

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We did have something of a bizarre incident on this trip. About halfway through it at 12:30 am, there was a sudden announcement "Man overboard! Man overboard! Port side!" We were already asleep, but everyone was ordered to return to their cabins. They announced that the ship was turning back to search the area, and two rescue craft were dispatched. Then we were told that everyone was to assemble at their muster stations but not to bring life jackets. The general alarm was sounded. So we all had to dress quickly and assemble in the designated areas. Some people came in bathrobes. We all sat about for half an hour while every single person in the crew and passenger list were verified. After everyone was confirmed safe, they released us back to our cabins.

Probably some object went over and whoever saw it didn't identify it as non-human. Better safe than sorry in such a situation.

We never learned the details of what happened to cause the alarm, but no one had gone overboard. This was an interesting test of the ability of the ship to assemble passengers and crew quickly for a real emergency, and they did a very good job. The few passengers who (inevitably) did not show up at their muster stations were tracked down relatively quickly. All of us had been issued medallions with RFID chips that signaled our locations, so the task was not as difficult as it might have been on other ships. This is a new technology that Princess Cruises introduced recently, and it worked very nicely.

Sounds like a very good idea for a cruise ship. You're going to have a huge number of people who don't know how to respond to an emergency.
 

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I’d like to get to Alaska. I am not a cruise-line person - it just doesn’t match my usual vacation style - but I’ve heard Alaska may be the one time to try it. Sounds like a nice trip you had. Do you expect any opportunity to upgrade your cabin? I hear that happens sometimes.

What makes you want to go again so soon? Is it the atmosphere of the cruise and so a duplicate trip is not really duplicate?

Same. I’d only do a cruise because I’d like to see the shoreline from the water. Actually same for the Mediterranean. On one hand, I’d enjoy the views and generally enjoy being in the water. On the other hand, even pre-pandemic, cruise ships strike me as huge floating Petri dishes.

They are, but things have changed a lot on ships because of COVID. Everyone wears masks in public areas now, although they take them off for food and drinks. Everyone had to have proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID test just to board the ship. There are testing facilities on board and procedures for quarantining and contact tracing when someone with symptoms tests positive. It is still a bigger risk, IMO, to travel on public transportation, where there are few, if any, such requirements for fellow passengers. I don't want to minimize the risk. It is still riskier than staying home and social distancing, but we can't stop living our lives until the crisis passes. That doesn't seem likely to happen for years, thanks to those who doggedly resist common sense measures to control the contagion. Businesses like cruise lines simply have to adjust by controlling their environments as best they can.

It is possible to take a land trip to Alaska, but that is probably riskier than a cruise, given that it is a red state, and it doesn't even have a statewide mask mandate. Only half the population is fully vaccinated. Moreover, you can't go everywhere, and places like Juneau are almost impossible to get to except by air and sea. You can only see the glaciers from ships that have special permission to get into the parks.

From our cabin balcony in Glacier National Park:

View attachment 35380

Marjerie Glacier in Glacier National Park

View attachment 35381

I'm hoping to be able to do a car trip across the Pacific Northwest and into Alaska in a couple of years, after hubby retires. I suppose we could fly to Seattle and then drive up into Alaska, etc. That's what my son did a couple of years ago, pre-covid. If I get to go, I really do hope to have a chance to get out on the water to see the coastline, and glaciers from the water.
 

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You could possibly leave the car in long term parking somewhere and take a cruise from either Seattle or Vancouver. We once found a deal where we could rent a motel room for a night in Vancouver, and they let us leave our car in their parking lot for free for the 14 days that we did a round-trip cruise to Alaska. However, those were pre-COVID days. Nothing like that is possible right now. The drive up to Alaska from here is quite far, but there is so much to see and enjoy in the PNW.
 

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You could possibly leave the car in long term parking somewhere and take a cruise from either Seattle or Vancouver. We once found a deal where we could rent a motel room for a night in Vancouver, and they let us leave our car in their parking lot for free for the 14 days that we did a round-trip cruise to Alaska. However, those were pre-COVID days. Nothing like that is possible right now. The drive up to Alaska from here is quite far, but there is so much to see and enjoy in the PNW.

Yeah, I just looked at a map and did the how far is it from Vancouver to Juneau---and embarrassingly enough, I was stunned. I'll have to check with my son to see how he and his friend did the trip--I should know but I honestly do not remember. I'm sure it's a beautiful drive but I was kind of hoping not to do THAT much driving.
 

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If you want to see Alaska the easy way, I would really recommend a cruise from Seattle/Vancouver to Alaska, or vice versa. You could start out or end up visiting Denali National Park (which we haven't been to yet). Trump wanted to change the name back to Mt. McKinley, since he couldn't stand the idea of using a name that locals had used long before European colonists declared themselves "owners" of the land. Some of the cruise lines will arrange a trip there before or after a cruise. The two lines that seem to give the best Alaska itineraries and experiences are Princess and Holland America, with Princess being by far the most recommended. On Friday, we'll be going back on a Royal Caribbean ship, the Ovation of the Seas, but we don't expect it to be nearly as good as the Princess cruise. it's just cheap right now--$289 pp plus taxes and service fees for 7 days. You probably won't find the same cruise that cheap in the future.
 

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If you want to see Alaska the easy way, I would really recommend a cruise from Seattle/Vancouver to Alaska, or vice versa. You could start out or end up visiting Denali National Park (which we haven't been to yet). Trump wanted to change the name back to Mt. McKinley, since he couldn't stand the idea of using a name that locals had used long before European colonists declared themselves "owners" of the land. Some of the cruise lines will arrange a trip there before or after a cruise. The two lines that seem to give the best Alaska itineraries and experiences are Princess and Holland America, with Princess being by far the most recommended. On Friday, we'll be going back on a Royal Caribbean ship, the Ovation of the Seas, but we don't expect it to be nearly as good as the Princess cruise. it's just cheap right now--$289 pp plus taxes and service fees for 7 days. You probably won't find the same cruise that cheap in the future.

It's not something that is possible for another couple of years, barring a powerball win so we aren't going to be able to take advantage of the low rates. Still, it's on my list of things to do once hubby is retired....
 

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Just returned from our second Alaska cruise a week ago. We had an inside cabin on this cruise (Princess Ovation of the Seas). It was cheap, but no balcony or window. Here I am in our stateroom staring at the wall.

IMG_20210928_172415.jpg
 

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Just returned from our second Alaska cruise a week ago. We had an inside cabin on this cruise (Princess Ovation of the Seas). It was cheap, but no balcony or window. Here I am in our stateroom staring at the wall.

View attachment 35609

How do you know it was Alaska? it could have been Cuba or North Korea or Italy, you would not know.
 
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