Even when the COVID-19 pandemic becomes an afterthought and we're left reminiscing and coping with the experiences we all had, we're going to have to be more aware of how we travel.
Nothing in the world of travel needs more of a reckoning than cruises, especially after COVID-19.
Cruise liners were already notorious for mistreating their employees by having them bunk in small below waterline cabins with several other crew members for up to a month at a time. It's also well documented that cruise liner employees have to work long hours. Cruise liners are also well known to have been able to skirt international tax laws by registering their companies in countries that are tax havens for large corporations.
In a time like this, travelers will have to be more cognizant than we have ever been about our hygiene if we ever want to travel safely again.
Cruises were some of the most dangerous places during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Most infamously the botched incident with the Diamond Princess of Princess Cruises. 712 of the 3,711 passengers and crew got the Coronavirus. 13 of them died.
Much of the debacle was at the hands of the Japanese authorities who didn't allow passengers to disembark the ship at the Yokohama port for 27 days. The virus spread through the ship worse than it would have, had they taken the passengers off the ship and isolated them from each other. It's believed had the authorities allowed people to disembark and be isolated, only 76 people would have gotten infected.
Then in early March, there was the Grand Princess, a cruise ship also run by Princess Cruises, that was reporting having passengers and crew with COVID-19 like symptoms. The ship was told to remain offshore of San Francisco, California. 103 passenger and crew tested positive. Three died.
Several ships offshore Australia were stranded at sea as Australia and other surrounding countries were refusing to let them dock in their ports.
All in all there have been 50 cruise ships that have had Coronavirus outbreaks. Japan, USA, Australia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, France and Italy to name a few countries that had to deal with cruise ship outbreaks.
Aside from the Coronavirus pandemic, I've had my own cruise ship virus experience.
At just 11 years old it was a traumatizing experience. I haven't been on a cruise ship since. Nor do I plan to ever return to one.
From my recollection, the previous three days were a blast. We had sunny, warm weather. We got to get off the ship on immaculate beaches and go snorkeling. I even had a fun experience in Key West, Florida getting to check out an old US gun boat.
I had fun experiences on a moving resort on the open seas with my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my brother, my parents and my grandparents.
The waiter that was assigned to our group for dinner during the trip was a really friendly and fun guy from Turkey. It had to have been my first experience meeting someone from Turkey.
At some point I was exposed to the Norwalk virus and became very ill the final night of the trip.
I remember being in the cabin late at night watching the NHL with my older brother (we were next to our parents cabin). I dozed off while my brother was still watching a game. In a complete daze I woke up, stood up, stumbled out into the hallway while my brother watched and tried to get my attention. He asked if I was ok and I responded no. Shortly there after I started to violently projectile vomit in the hallway.
My brother woke up my parents to alert them to what was happening and my father quickly alerted the crew. I was then taken to the ships infirmary where I was treated by a South African doctor. I only know where she was from because she was using it to try and distract me while she tried to get an IV into my arm.
We later learned that 75 people on the ship (see the Washington Post article linked above) were evacuated from the ship and taken to Miami on busses. I was very close to being one of them.
When we disembarked in Miami I was still in a daze going in and out of sleep. I slept through most of the airport and flight home only waking up for brief moments. I recall waking up and being carried by my father through the airport. During the flight my cousin was sitting next to me and she took good care of me.
There was no pandemic occurring when I, a child, got sick on a cruise in 2002. Cruises, even in a normal time, are havens for germs.
Cruises pose a risk to your health and they just aren't a good way to experience other countries and cultures. Post 2020 and post Coronavirus pandemic, it's time to leave cruises behind and make them a thing of the past.