The discussions are inevitable when people know you have a cruise on the near-term calendar.
“Aren’t you worried you’ll catch something? Like, you know, coronavirus? You never know who will be sick on a ship like that.”
Not any more concerned than I am on the streets of downtown Portland or at the local grocery store. Let’s face it, in today’s economy with global travel as easy as it is, anyone you come into contact with in public these days could be infected with any number of nasty diseases.
Keep in mind, though, that thousands die each year from the flu virus in our country. Twelve thousand is the average, but over 61,000 died from the flu in the 2017-18 season, according to the CDC. AND we have a vaccine for it that, unfortunately, not all people take advantage of.
Safety Tips If You’re Traveling (or Staying Home)
If you’re planning to travel over the next few months (as we are), don’t let fear of catching something kill your plans. Be smart and follow common personal safety rules, and you should be fine. (Hate to have to restate something we’ve all ‘heard’ a thousand times, but this all bears repeating.)
- Wash your hands well and often, particularly before and after you eat. Dry them well too, as moist surfaces tend to accumulate germs more easily.
- Keep your hands away from your face. Rubbing your eyes, scratching your nose or picking that salad out of your teeth (Why are you doing this in public anyway?) are the easiest ways to transmit a virus to your system. And people do these things. All. The. Time. (She says, as she watches a political news feed…)
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Doing so into a tissue or into the crook of your arm is the polite thing to do.
- Don’t rely on a squeeze bottle of antibacterial lotion to do the job of protection for you. It only works on (some) bacteria and NOT ON VIRUSES. (Like the common cold…) Ditto for sani-wipes.
- If you feel sick, STAY HOME. There is a sizable segment of our population that cannot be vaccinated (not by choice but because of their medical fragility). Don’t expose them to your crud.
- Thin paper (‘surgical’) masks you buy at the drugstore are not going to protect you from airborne bugs, nor will it protect you if you rub your face with your (dirty infected) hands. Those masks are intended to keep you from sneezing or coughing on others, but they don’t filter the air. Only masks of the commercial level rated for tiny, tiny particulates truly filter air, and they still may not be fully effect unless they are used properly and molded to your face.
- Eat healthy foods, get adequate rest, and aim for some FRESH air each day (think parks with trees, not city streets) to give your body the fuel it needs to fight off minor ailments.
Notes on Coronavirus
As for coronavirus, here are some things you should know specific to that disease and upcoming travel.
- You bought travel insurance for your upcoming vacation – good job! BUT – those policies will not repay you if you cancel your trip just because you’re afraid of catching something. That’s on you.
- If your trip is CANCELED BY YOUR AIRLINE, CRUISE LINE OR TOUR PROVIDER and they don’t offer you a full refund (shame on them), contact both your travel agent and your trip insurance company.
- Contact your travel agent and your trip insurance company if you get stranded away from home due to a cancellation. Either your agent or the insurer will attempt to rebook you.
- While your agent and your insurer are your virtual advocates, that’s no replacement for being a proactive, politely disgruntled customer. Regardless of how it seems in the moment, the airline/cruise line/tour company WANT to satisfy you and have you go home and tell everyone how happy you were that they came through in such trying times. Let them try to help you and be nice about it.
- If you suddenly get sick while on a trip, particularly a cruise or group tour, notify them and self-quarantine in your cabin or hotel room. Seriously, do you want to be the one everyone points to as the source of the stomach bug epidemic that ran rampant through the ship?
Our Story and We’re Sticking to It
We have a two-week cruise coming up, a segment of a world cruise with (yes) people from all over the world. We fly through the busiest international airport in the world to get to the embarkation point. We will undoubtedly be in contact with folks who have come into contact with germs we haven’t been exposed to, for which our bodies have no natural or vaccinated immunities.
That isn’t dissuading us from travel. We’ll be smart and take the above precautions. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) reality is that coronavirus isn’t showing any signs of slowing in its spread, and while doctors and research labs work feverishly to find ways to stop it, find a preventive avenue or cure it, it will be with us for a months if not years to come.
That won’t keep us home. How about you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.