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Thread: My Vacation Cruise in Asia during the Wuhan Flu Scare

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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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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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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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.

    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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    Elder Contributor barbos's Avatar
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    I will miss you.

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbos View Post
    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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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Higgins View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    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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