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Everything posted by doctork

  1. Thanks, that makes sense. Also, some people are tested regularly as part of their job (nursing home employees, hospital staff, etc) - then you would be aware of the risk you could put the kibosh on your cruise unless you isolate for 14 days prior.
  2. Exactly. Given that there are people who are infected but asymptomatic, there are likely to be some boarding the ship with negative test today or within the last 2 or 3 days, but happened to be positive 11 days or 13 days ago but didn't know it because they weren't testing daily. Unless you were sick with Covid symptoms at the time of the test, or had it done because of recent exposure to a known case, there is the possibility that "extra test" was a false positive. Unless people are tested daily for the 14 days prior to boarding, one can't be sure that no such passengers have boarded. As a result, the various authorities seems to agree that a negative test within 2 - 3 days prior to boarding (with or without full vaccination) is about as good as they can get to be as safe as possible.
  3. Maybe I am missing something. Why would one test for Covid 11 days prior to a cruise? I thought the tests needed to be done within 48 - 72 hours prior to sail.
  4. There are also those with immune suppression that limit vaccine effectiveness, and allergies that preclude immunization. Then we know already that the vaccine is "only 95%" effective (which extraordinarily successful), and herd immunity is thought to prevail at some rate from 70% to 95%. With health issues, it is rare to have 100% for anything, though a temporary policy while we transition back to cruising may be appropriate.
  5. I thought that the reason there may be a 95% requirement vaccination rate is to allow for some unvaccinated children to cruise. Those under age 12 are not yet eligible, so 100% vaccinated requirement effectively eliminates children under 12. For some lines - no problem, they aim for adults anyway. For other lines, children constitute a large portion of passengers, though indeed, they don't usually make the purchase.
  6. Doesn't the cruise line's policies regarding vaccination also depend on the planned ports' policies? If the port authorities require high levels of vaccination, the ship won't be allowed to dock and the passengers won't be able to get off the ship in port. It's hard to predict the future.
  7. In marketing class I was taught that in any industry, an unhappy customer will tell 10 people about their bad experience while happy customers will tell four others. My marketing instructor would agree with you 🙂
  8. Yes with shortage of workers, TSA can be slow these days at SEA, and airlines too are short of pilots, flight crew, ground crew. That means fewer flights, and more packed 100% full, thus fewer open seats on later flights to move you too if you miss your flight. Good decision these days to choose a later flight, even though in the past I was casual - "Never rush to catch a plane, there is always a later flight."
  9. A very enticing review! We've never sailed on Royal, but I think I see RCCL in our future. Thanks for taking the time to write this.
  10. That is so sweet! I just booked my first NCL cruise, on Escape, and was trolling here to check out rooms when I saw your post. Happy anniversary - have a wonderful cruise!
  11. I'm loving your photos and live review! I might even be enticed to travel again, it looks so nice there. And if you happen by that spot on the book of faces, you might also float away to another site with some recent additions that you and Meatball might both find to be of interest!
  12. Your planned trip sounds wonderful! My husband has lost his former enthusiasm for travel, so I usually travel alone (cruise or on land) while he is home with our pets. You don't have to be extroverted to enjoy solo travel, as it can be easier to meet others when traveling alone. If you are part of a couple or a group, you tend to hang with them, and there's pressure to do what they want to do. Traveling solo, you do whatever you want, when you want to do it. I keep a journal when I am traveling, and if I find myself alone, I'm not lonely - I'm just taking a few minutes to jot notes or draw a quick sketch! I love the cultural and historical sites and museums on your itineraries - easily enjoyed as a solo, but also easy to find someone else who'd want to do the same. As others say - join the Roll Call for your cruises, "meet" some people before the cruise, and maybe find others to share a tour. Often I like to take an early ship excursion bus tour (or a taxi might do the same) to get "the lay of the land," and help me decide what I want to see in detail later in the day. Packing - for me as a solo traveler, it's important to pack wisely so I don't have more baggage than I can manage myself. For me, this means my backpack and one suitcase on wheels, preferably one that fits in the overhead bin. Think scarves, jewelry, neutral colors or clothes that can mix & match. Occasionally I send things home, or have additional items sent to pick up mid-trip, especially if a long trip involves both tropical and cold places. This can also be a great excuse to, say, buy a new winter coat when you arrive in a cold place.
  13. Since his stroke, my husband doesn't care much for travel (even though he has completely recovered from the stroke), unless it is to visit family members via trips on land or air. He never was big on cruising, while I love cruising and all other kids of travel. We have a large dog and two cats. This is perfect - he stays home and cares for the pets, while I travel when and where I want. No boarding or pet-sitting expenses! Often my cruises are theme cruises, so never a problem finding other cruisers with similar interests.
  14. We don't yet know the duration of immunity to Covid (either by vaccine of infection) as it is too new, but you could be correct - that we won't or can't achieve full "herd immunity." I just read a new journal article this morning that suggests that immunity lasts at least 10 months; it's longer every time a batch of new article comes out. Immunity depends on many factors - various antibody levels, B-cell and T-cell actions, R0 ("R naught - the number of persons an infected individual transmit the infection to), the rate and significance of mutations, vaccine effectiveness (our current vaccines are very effective), vaccine uptake, and who knows what else. Some level of vaccination will likely provide "effective herd immunity" where Covid-19 exists in the population but at a low level. Measles has become quite rare in the US, though when the number of anti-vaxxers rises, so do cases of measles. Birth defects due to rubella (German measles) are really rare in recent years. We shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Immunization requirements preparatory to travel - like cruise ship requirements - is one tool to use in getting as close as possible to herd immunity.
  15. For me, this was always medical, not political; the hospital which cared for the first US Covid patient is the hospital I refer my patients to. The mask shortage developed very quickly when an outbreak among nursing home residents appeared shortly after that first case, and suddenly everyone needed high quality disposable surgical masks all the time (not just during a procedure), with changes of disposable masks recommended at least every 4 hours. I don't think there was any "cover up" but rather a gradual unfolding knowledge of the nature of the virus and the disease it caused. We have had other coronaviruses but Covid-19 was brand new and quite different, and in medical circles at least, there was always uncertainty and speculation (still is, to this day) about its origin, though politicians may have had reasons to favor one explanation over another. That Operation Warp Speed led from defining the viral genome to effective vaccines in less than a year is remarkable. I am grateful for the vaccine, and for having enough masks to protect most of us (estimates are that approx 1,500 doctors, nurses and others in healthcare from Covid) during that development period. And now we may begin cruising again soon - excellent news!
  16. Thanks OP for posting the link - I added my comments. I served once on a federal advisory committee and our task was to formulate regulations on the assigned subject, including reviewing and considering all the public comments. As a committee member, I personally read every single comment. This link was an RFI - and I think CDC does want opinions and suggestions though I am sure they already have plenty of ideas and input from the stakeholders. I'm ready to start cruising again when the cruise lines are, presuming they are taking proper precautions. A vaccine would be nice, but it will never be 100% protection so it's not a prerequisite; I'll stick with common sense and what the scientists like Dr. Fauci recommend and ignore the politicians. Our life continues pretty much the same as usual except for wearing face coverings in public, and for me, surgical or N95 masks at the office. DH has retired, but I didn't become a physician so I could stay away from sick people. I live in a hotel during the work week as I am a "travel doc" filling in at a rural clinic where they are trying to recruit a new doc and need someone to see patients until they find one. Honestly I don't see any pandemic difference in the hotel except that they clean the room only once a week, and they don't have a breakfast buffet anymore. That's OK, there's a fridge, stove and microwave in my room. We've been out to dinner in a restaurant twice since this pandemic began, each time was a special occasion with our kids visiting. There was plenty of spacing of tables, the servers wore masks, and we wore our masks until we were seated. Capacity seemed to be below the permitted 50% and our group was 5 people, the limit at the time. Usually if we want restaurant dinners, we order delivery and eat at home. After working out of town all week (pre-made grocery store meals, salads, sandwiches in the hotel room) I'd rather stay home for dinner. We've had three cruises and two major music festivals canceled out from under us so we are planning a national park vacation next month, 3 hours drive from home. Enjoyable in a different way from the vacations we had planned, but hey, we'll stay at a pet-friendly place and take our dog with us instead of boarding her.
  17. There are other forms of immunity other than antibodies. Some of the antibody tests are not very reliable. It may be encouraging that there are few, if any, reliably documented cases of reinfection - so far. But we really don't know. For now (and probably through the end of 2020 at least) I don't think there is a plan for cruise ships to operate safely.
  18. I don't think the average passenger who is not a medical professional would have realized the seriousness of Covid-19. In fact, Dr. Fauci said something to the effect of "If you are young and healthy without risk factors, you can probably go ahead and cruise, though I can't imagine why you would want to do that" (I am paraphrasing of course); he recommended that older adults and people with risk factors NOT cruise. But the cruise line leadership and medical departments were aware of how dangerous the virus could be, but decided to cruise anyway. That is my personal opinion and I am not a lawyer.
  19. I may not insure the cost of my cruise but I ALWAYS make sure I have good travel medical and evacuation insurance. These costs can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket if there is no insurance coverage, and many US health insurance policies do not include care outside the US. I buy the type of travel medical insurance that is first payer (not after my other health insurance) because in many countries you must pay cash or guarantee payment for your care before the doctors and hospitals will provide it. I also make sure I have coverage to the hospital of my choice, not just the nearest suitable location, which may still be far from home and family. Young healthy people can have expensive accidents and injuries, so travel medical insurance is not "just for old people." If I can't afford the insurance, I can't afford the cruise.
  20. The chartering entity cancelled our cruise on March 11, 2 days prior to HAL and the rest of the cruise industry suspending cruises on March 13. By mid-February it was apparent that Covid-19 was being spread person-to-person in Asia - including on ships with Americans on board - and anyone who remembers SARS in 2002-2003 or even thinks logically about rapid disease spread by trans-oceanic airline flights, could foresee that continuing to cruise would result in serious outbreaks on-board. A regimen of taking temperatures or filling out health questionnaire or checking passports for recent travel to China, then performing lots of cleaning on-board would not be adequate to contain the virus. The discovery process will take its course through the legal system, but it is apparent to me that the risk was certainly widely known in medical circles (and Carnival has a medical department for a reason) by the week of March 2, which was when I decided NOT to buy an airline ticket to the port because the cruise was too risky. I had not insured the cruise, and "no refunds from HAL on a charter," but I preferred to let $6,000 go down the drain rather than risk Covid-19 on the ship.
  21. My canceled cruise was a full charter on Veendam and was scheduled to sail on March 18. The first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed January 20 and that patient was treated at the hospital where I send my patients. The first US death from Covid-19 occurred on February 29 and it was becoming obvious that the illness was spreading in the community, not just among those who had traveled to China. Corporate Carnival, HAL, and the organizers of our cruise were all saying that completing a health questionnaire prior to boarding, increasing the cleaning on board, and denying boarding for those who had traveled to China would ensure that the cruise was safe. The cruise would go on! Either sail or lose money. By that first week in March I am quite sure it was apparent to all The Powers That Be that cruising was not safe and widespread Covid outbreaks on cruise ships were inevitable. I don't know about the legal details, but from a medical and ethical point of view, the cruise lines would seem to have some liability. They knew or should have known of the risk, so this lawsuit seems to have merit.
  22. Update on our HAL charter: Our charter cruise scheduled for March 18 - 25 was cancelled on March 11 by the chartering entity, 2 days before HAL actually cancelled all sailings. If we receive our promised 70% refund next week, it will have been approximately 90 days from cancellation to repayment. I received an email today stating that "the check is in the mail" from HAL and the charterer expects to receive it on June 4. We can expect our refund checks mailed the week of June 8; we should receive approximately 70% of what we paid. Most if not all of us would have paid by credit card, so I don't understand the use of paper checks rather than credit card refund, but if they actually refund us some of our payment I won't complain, I will deposit the check. Quickly.
  23. We were booked on a charter cruise scheduled March 18 - 25 and HAL hasn't refunded any payment to the chartering entities yet (it cost between $1.5 million and $2 million to rent the Veendam for a week), though apparently under legal pressure, HAL agreed they would refund $1.5 million. The chartering entities say that the payment to HAL was less than half the actual cruise cost and much of the rest of the money has been already been spent on non-refundable costs. If HAL ever pays the charterers (it is looking somewhat dubious, isn't it?), we may receive a partial refund. This is a mess. Everybody (including many travel insurers) says they are not required to repay a penny since the cause was "force majeure." Maybe they will do us beggers a favor and give us a portion of our money back.
  24. We've taken quite a few theme cruises where the ports didn't matter. We were happy just watching movies (Turner Classic Movies cruise) or being entertained by musicians on music-themed cruises. I love sea days but without an entertaining "theme," I'd rather have at least one or two ports in a week. However, on cruises to Alaska or Norwegian Fjords maybe just scenery would be fine.
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