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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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    My Vacation Cruise in Asia during the Wuhan Flu Scare

    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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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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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.

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    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.

    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.

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

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

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    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.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Fair enough.

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    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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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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