The beginning of 2022 has, unfortunately, been filled with “What If” calls and emails…and a whole bunch of disgruntled posts on luxury cruise-related Facebook pages normally reserved for more upbeat and cheerleading thoughts.
I’m going to digress and put my belief right up front and I have serious concerns as to why neither the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control) nor the media have said it:
Covid-19 has become a “Physically a Disease of the Unvaccinated”. But…and it is a big “But”…Covid-19 has become an “Emotional and Practical Disease of the Vaccinated” through no fault of anyone other than the unvaccinated. The concomitant emotions that result are manifesting themselves…and we need to breathe and recenter ourselves.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the questions!
What if someone gets Covid-19 on my cruise? What if my cruise is canceled? What if I miss a port or more? What if I can’t get a Covid-19 test? What if my flight is canceled? What if I get Covid-19 while I am away? What if I am just too stressed to travel? What if? What if? What if? (Trust me there are many more!)
The reality these “What ifs” are all legitimate questions. But what I am seeing is the stress levels of most (not all) of those asking these questions are actually higher than they were at anytime since the beginning of this Covid-19 ordeal. Yes, things can happen, but the probability of them is no longer part of many folks measuring of concern. It is as if they are, in fact, going to happen…as if it is emotionally safer to just assume the worst.
And that “worst” is not, compared to two years ago, really a terrible result. Disappointing? Absolutely. Frustrating? Yup. But “the worst”? Not at all.
Similarly, the desire to vigorously post complaints about moderate or even small misses (like missing luggage tags, delayed greets at the airport, a skipped port, having to wear a mask) rather than on the fact they are having great service and cuisine (if the small misses don’t consume them) and an overall luxurious experience…though possibly with some frustrating hiccups.
Lost by many are the facts that the cruise lines, hotels, transportation companies, etc. are also facing issues with staffing, Covid-19 protocols, the carry-on effect of one company’s miss causes the next company in line to also miss, etc. To expect everything to be as it was pre-Covid is just not realistic and only sets up oneself (and those around them) for an elevated level of upset or more.
But, to be sure, it isn’t all the traveler’s fault for being so hyped up. Between the media and the US Centers for Disease Control, the hyperbole has been incredible. Added to that is having to deal with the uncertainty caused by the seemingly constant changing requirements of various ports. And, without question, anyone enduring two years of this stuff is going to be ripe for the media-desired an otherwise kind of expected negative reactions.
And it is not only in the cruise world. As you probably know, I live in Truckee (Lake Tahoe), California and have owned a place here for over 35 years. I have, of course, seen many changes over the years. But nothing like the past two years. The tourists and second homeowners (are they really different?) are so hyped up, so aggressive, so demanding of perfection for “their” short-term experience they lose sight of what has made this area (or their cruise) the place they wanted to be.
But just because things can be explained or understood doesn’t make them correct or worthy of support. To the contrary, understanding the symptoms can lead to a cure…or at least a reduction in symptoms. (A headache is a symptom caused by something. By understanding why you have a headache you can do something such as taking ibuprofen or sitting in a dark room to reduce the symptoms but not cure the cause.)
So let me try to give some perspective and guidance…at least from the luxury market perspective in an effort to, ‘err um, hopefully reduce some of the symptoms.
Two Years Ago We Worried About Dying. Now We Don’t!
Remember the stress and worry about catching Covid-19 because people were hospitalized and dying at alarming rates? Heck, we didn’t even know how we could catch it! There were no medicines, no less vaccines? We were afraid to even bring the mail and groceries into our homes. See other people? Fuggedaboudit!
While we cannot forget that, there really needs to be an acceptance of the fact that 98-99% of all serious Covid-19 cases are NOW associated with the unvaccinated (don’t get me started!) and the few serious cases of those are vaccinated have pretty much all be associated with serious underlying conditions such as being immunocompromised.
In addition, while the number of cases in the has risen significantly (see below), the percentage of asymptomatic or mild illness has skyrocketed as a percentage versus serious illness, the rate of hospitalizations has all but been eliminated for the vaccinated and has even dropped for the unvaccinated (though the number of hospitalizations has been on the rise) as has the rate of death.
Testing and Increase in Covid-19 Cases
Cruise lines require vaccinations and then test, test, test.
Hotels do not require vaccinations and do not test.
Restaurants generally do not require vaccinations and do not test. (Though in some places proof of vaccination is required)
Stadiums do not require vaccinations and do not test.
Other than cruise lines -which are proactive – the rest of society is pretty much, “Go get yourself exposed and then find out if you are infected.” So the CDC is OK with this “not on cruise ship” approach?
The result: Six months ago if you wanted a test you could pretty much walk into a facility and get a test. Now a huge number of people want to be tested…most not because they want to travel. So there are long lines and a shortage of tests.
Another result is that the more you seek the more you find. So while it is undeniably true that the Omicron variant is more transmissible, when 1 in a 1,000 were getting tested and now 200 in a thousand are being tested, you are going to have an artificially large increase in known cases. Keep in mind that since the vast – and I mean vast – majority of Covid-19 cases for those vaccinated and boosted are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms until now those folks probably would not have even thought of being tested. Why would they?
On cruise ships this phenomenon is even greater as literally every person is tested at least twice in a week (just before or at boarding and then at least at disembarkation plus during a longer cruise). Imagine that will all that testing there have been so few cases. End the Year as it Began: Covid-19 and the CDC…Ugh – Goldring Travel
So with infection rates on cruise ships lower than in any other population/venue, and with a proven track record of those infections being controlled so as to limit the number of guests and crew that become infected (even with a couple of moderate lapses), I can honestly say that if I am going to be in a population of people I would rather meet them on a ship than in a restaurant, hotel (where I became infected), stadium, casino, etc.
Quarantine and Isolation Requirements Are Being Reduced
Keeping in mind that 98-99% of all serious Covid-19 cases are associated with the unvaccinated (don’t get me started!) and those that are vaccinated have had serious underlying conditions, many are beginning to question why so much quarantining and isolation of those in close contact as it is clear that Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon. And, I believe with good reason!
And as I write this the CDC is now cutting in half the amount of time necessary to quarantine or isolate. Why? Because if you are vaccinated you necessarily do not carry the same load of virus and are, thus, not nearly able to infect others. So, science says that if you cannot infect others – or you have a far less likelihood of doing so – what is the “cost-benefit” to you and to those around you from keeping you out of work, socially, etc.?
This, by the way, directly relates to why the cruise ships are able to isolate those who have Covid-19 infections and those who are “close contacts”. If spread was so easy in the vaccinated population controlling the spread would be far more difficult. Make sense?
Personal Choice is Just That!
With all of the above, each person is different both emotionally and in risk-reward determinations. There is no right answer. But there is a huge difference between an informed and uninformed emotional and risk-reward decision.
It is said that nobody needs to go on a cruise. I beg to differ. There are people that really need to travel for a variety of reasons and, as I have explained, a cruise truly seems to be one of the safest ways to do it.
However, if you are someone that wants, no expects, no demands “The Good Old Days”, no matter how much you may want to travel, my advice is to stay home. You have an extraordinarily high likelihood of being upset, frustrated, or worse…and that will absolutely affect those around you.
Yes, your impact on others matters. Remember those “Good Old Days” when your parents told you how you conducted yourself in public mattered?
Though I live in the mountains of California, I definitely have an East Coast manner when things are wrong. But what truly matters is measuring – better moderating – when a “miss” becomes a “wrong”; and then when the “wrong” is sufficient enough to be worthy of a significant aggressive response. But what is that calculus?
If your calculus is “The Good Old Days” just stay home. If your calculus is, “It ain’t perfect, but it is still amazing” or even “I appreciate that I have gotten a chance to breathe”, then get out there.
It is, alas, your choice. But as they say, “Choose Wisely”. You don’t want to be miserable or to make those around you upset.
Personally, I have three trips planned: January (French Polynesia on Windstar), February (Antarctica on Scenic Eclipse), and March (Patagonia on Quark Expeditions). I fully expect there will be misses, what if’s and other things that just aren’t like “The Good Old Days”. But – and it is a big “But” – I am super-excited to be traveling…even as I wonder if my pre-trip Covid-19 testing results are on time and are negative.
That said I have to admit that I do resent those who refuse to get vaccinated. With billions of people vaccinated without significant verified serious adverse effects (and most certainly less than the effect of Covid on the unvaccinated), the concepts of personal choice (there are so many vaccines that are mandatory and so many regulations from speeding to not carrying a gun on a plane we are all subject to) and the pseudo-political protest just don’t cut it for me. I cringe when I hear an anti-vaxxer say, “Back in the day”. Back in the day vaccines and medicines made it so we all are alive today.
But if there was a way that Covid-19 could just be their physical disease without it being our emotional and practical disease, I would be all for it. Just sayin’.