Sometimes it’s Good to Stay Negative

Day 5, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand Cruise

Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022; At Sea, North Pacific Ocean

If there were any question as to whether we have put Covid-19 behind us, the answer is no — at least on the MS Westerdam. Today brought a round of Covid testing for all passengers. I’ll cut to the chase here – I tested negative. WooHoo!

At 10:30 this morning I reported to my stateroom, where my cabin steward handed me a test to self-administer.

After the required 10-minute wait, I showed him my negative result, and I could go on my way.

It wasn’t as great a relief as my pre-cruise negative test, when a positive report would have canceled my voyage. But still it was welcome news.

I know at least one person tested positive. My nearby elevator lobby was closed as stewards moved a passenger and luggage from another floor to the quarantine staterooms on the opposite corridor of my deck. Another crew member came along to sanitize the elevators and hallway. I feel sorry for the unknown passenger(s), who have to pack everything and will miss our three Hawaii ports while in quarantine.

Social media scuttlebutt over the past year indicates that Holland America is keeping the onboard rate of Covid close to the vest. Seldom do they announce the number. Occasionally a cruiser will post information gleaned during a casual conversation with a ship’s officer. We do know that if the captain tightens the masking rules, the number is rising.

On this cruise, the requirement to wear masks indoors (except when in your cabin or while actively eating or drinking) went into effect when we boarded. Officially it is due to “the length and itinerary of our voyage,” per the captain’s letter. I do know that several countries on our itinerary only recently opened to cruise ships, but they won’t let us stop if our Covid percentage is too high.

After all the controversy over masking for the past few years, I wondered how well fellow cruisers would follow the captain’s mask requirements. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see a pretty good adherence. We must have had a good report from this morning’s testing, because the cruise director announced at noon that after Honolulu (our next port in two days), masks will no longer be required, but still recommended.

I have friends who have tested positive during cruises earlier this year, usually without exhibiting any symptoms. Their quarantines can last as long as 10 days. It could happen to any of us, but I am trying to lower my odds by religiously wearing my mask (not everyone does) and washing my hands. I’ve had two vaccines and three boosters, including the most recent that targets Omicron. I’ve also downloaded a number of books and art courses to my iPad to help fill the time should I fall victim. I hear a big side effect of quarantining is boredom.