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February 28, 2020
And Now, a Word from the Department of Health

Tomorrow, after two days at sea, we are due to arrive in Sydney, Australia. We have been informed that when we arrive tomorrow, the Australian Border Force will conduct a mandatory face-to-face immigration inspection with every single passenger aboard our ship. If a passenger so much as coughs during this inspection – and has not been previously cleared by the ship’s medical doctor – they may have their passport stamped “No Entry.”

The only way around this is to have been cleared by the ship’s medical doctor. In anticipation, the onboard Medical Center faced a long line of passengers queued up for examination. There is definitely something going around. Two of Russell’s three boardgaming partners have been confined to their cabins with bacterial infections. Both of us have had slight coughs and sore throats. In an abundance of caution, Gail went to the Medical Center to be examined.

Gail ended up sitting in the cold waiting room for several hours. Meanwhile, Russell boardgamed with the single remaining healthy member of his group. Gail continued to sit in the waiting room. Meanwhile, Russell’s trivia team won the accumulative trivia competition for this segment of the cruise – their second consecutive win.

After trivia, Russell returned to the cabin to find Gail there. She has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, given antibiotics, and told to remain quarantined in the cabin until further notice. Because of this, Russell was also required to report to the Medical Center for examination.

Russell went down to where Doctor Mauricio was waiting for him. After a cursory examination, Russell has been given a clean bill of health. Gail is flabbergasted, as she swears that Russell’s cough is worse than hers. So while Gail is confined to the cabin, Russell is allowed to roam the ship freely.

This is a shame, because we had dinner reservations tonight at Chartreuse, one of the specialty restaurants. Gail did not want this reservation to go to waste (it’s formal night), and she urged Russell to keep it. So while Gail ordered room service and watched a movie in the cabin, Russell went out for dinner, attended the crew’s farewell show and watched the evening entertainment.

Doctor Mauricio told Russell that a shipwide bacterial infection is much easier to treat than a viral infection. With any luck, the Australian authorities will only request a 24-hour quarantine among sick passengers.

In the meantime, we have received an updated – and final – itinerary for the upcoming “Aussie Discovery” segment of our cruise. (We had received a previous revised itinerary on February 20, but apparently that one wasn’t final. Who knew?) Here is our final itinerary:

(The main change is that we are no longer going to Melbourne.)

We were informed of this change yesterday, and it resulted in Gail standing in yet another 40-minute line to reserve excursions (before she was quarantined).

Our understanding is that the itinerary is now final through Abu Dhabi. What happens after that remains to be seen. Stay tuned!

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