[Covid-19 Series] What it was Like on a Cruise During the Coronavirus Pandemic

This might just turn out to be the most controversial blog post I’ve ever written, but here we go!

I got back from a 4-day cruise yesterday and wanted to share what it was like when we left, when we were on the cruise, and when we got back.

For those of you that don’t know, WiFi and cellular data are sometimes hard to access when on cruises because you’re in the middle of the ocean for the majority of the time. Even if you do get service, the fees can be astronomical. So, the easiest thing to do is to just turn off your phone and unplug – especially if it’s a short cruise like our’s was.

The cruise was Tuesday (3/10) through Friday (3/13) and before we left, the Coronavirus was definitely becoming more and more of a media sensation, but it didn’t seem close enough or scary enough for us to cancel our plans just yet. We’d obviously heard of some cases in the US (including Chicago), but people were still going about their daily lives, making sure to wash their hands, and being careful of what and whom they touch.

The CDC issued a warning to the elderly and other people with vulnerable conditions to consider cancelling travel/cruise plans the day before we left. I might have considered it under different circumstances, but the cruise was for one of my best friends’ weddings and I wasn’t panicked enough to reschedule.

Before we left…

the group all decided to bring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for the plane ride and general living on the cruise ship because we were aware of the risks. I, myself, couldn’t find any of that in the few stores I went to, but my friends were able to get enough for everyone.

The day we were leaving for Florida, my boss understandably asked me to work from home for two weeks after I get back. Honestly, working from home is one of my favorite things, so I wasn’t upset about it whatsoever. There are also people in my office that are physically vulnerable themselves or live with people who are, and I was happy to self-quarantine to avoid potentially getting them sick if anything were to come back with me.

I’m generally a carefree person when it comes to these things. I usually have the mindset of “if I get it, I’ll deal with it then, but I’m not going to spend my time worrying about something that might not happen.”

That said, I went into this cruise slightly worried. I was washing my hands every chance I got and starting to take Emergen C packets every day leading up to it.

On The Cruise…

I was genuinely surprised by how much of a bubble we were in – I’ll elaborate here.

There seemed to be a heightened awareness of sanitization, meaning there were people spraying hand sanitizer on everyone’s hands before entering a restaurant and a few announcements here and there about the importance of washing your hands. They also did thermal screenings (to test for a fever) everytime we got on the ship, but other than that, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. I assumed this was by design and that the cruise line (MSC) wanted its customers to enjoy the cruise without panicking about Coronavirus.

However, looking back now, it’s a little erie. NO ONE was talking about the Coronavirus on board (except my friends and a few jokes made by other cruise goers). No one was updating us on what was happening in the outside world (aside from the news being broadcasted in ONE location on board). Essentially, we were living a life without media for a week.

When we got back…

we realized quickly that shit had hit the fan. My entire office was closed indefinitely, Austin’s classes were now all online, sports organizations were suspended, schools were closing, etc., etc., etc. We found out that MSC had even suspended all cruises from leaving starting March 14th (the day after we got back).

While the world was panicking, we were in the Bahamas seemingly without a care in the world and that’s a harsh reality to come back to.

As I’m typing this, I just got back from the grocery store with limited selection for almost everything. They were out of eggs, some cleaning supplies, household items, and some non-perishable foods.

BUT, I also came back to find out that the people who are physically quarantined in Italy are making their way to their balconies every night at 6pm to sing and play music.

I came back to see small business owners on Instagram sharing ways to help other small businesses during a hard time like this.

I came back to see influencers encouraging people to give to local food banks and help anyone any way they can.

I came back to panic, but I also came back to hope.

My Final Opinion on This Whole Thing…

is that the media is DEFINITELY blowing everything out of proportion and causing people to panic way more than necessary. However, I also think there are people out there who should be taking more precaution than they are.

I’ll be the first to admit that choosing to go on this cruise was a little reckless and if you’re someone who is choosing to continue to travel and put yourself at risk, I think you need to consider self-quarantining when you return. If you contract it and you’re young and healthy, it may not be a big deal to you, but you never know who you could be passing it along to.

That said, I also don’t think the level of panic that’s happening is necessary. You don’t need to buy a years-worth of toilet paper, people! buy your groceries for one or two weeks and enjoy some time at home!

Lastly, I Want to Share…

a few ways to help others who might not be so fortunate right now.

  1. Donate to your local food bank. This is a big one – schools are closing and some kids depend on school for their daily meals. Help make sure these kids are fed. Here is the link for the Chicago Food Bank, but if you’re in another city, just Google “(city) food bank donation.”
  2. Buy a gift card for a local business. Local/small businesses are hurting right now. If you know you might need to buy something from them in the near future, consider spending that money now (if you can) to help them out.
  3. If you can’t afford to buy a gift card, write them a review or share their products/services on social media. This stuff is free and it genuinely helps.
  4. Reach out to those around you to see how they’re doing. Widespread panic like this can result in some series anxiety for some of us, so just make sure your people are good.

This is a hard time for the world. Most of us are at least inconvenienced in one way or another and others are significantly hurting.

Be nice to those around you.

Be part of the community and help out where you can.

Take responsibility if you’ve put yourself in a vulnerable situation by practicing a self-quarantine.

That’s all you can do. We will get through this and we will be stronger because of it.

Let me know your thoughts, feelings, concerns, or signs of hope in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • Megan
    October 24, 2020

    It must have been quite a shock to come back to! You reflect on the connection people created at the beginning, and that had to be the best part about everything that has happened.

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