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March 16, 2020
As the World Turns

Russell writes…

Yesterday morning, the captain announced that our cruise ship would bypass its final three ports and proceed directly to its final destination of Fremantle (Perth), Australia. We sailed at the relatively rapid speed of almost 20 knots per hour.

Our arrival ETA was March 16 at 3:00 pm. The captain warned us that because we were not originally expected until two days from now, Fremantle would not have a berth available until March 18. We would have to anchor for two days. (Our berth was currently occupied by the Queen Mary 2, which had cut its own cruise itinerary short.)

The unanswered question: Would the ship provide a tender service to shore while we were anchored? Would we be able to leave the ship before March 18? Would Australia even allow us to step ashore?

This soon gave way to a bigger question, as Australian news rapidly developed. Yesterday afternoon, Australia announced that everyone would be subject to a 14-day isolation period. Australia also announced that “international cruise ships” would be denied entry for 30 days.

Does our ship count as an “international” cruise ship? We have been sailing in Australia for the past 15 days. Does this make us an Australian cruise ship? We all grappled with the possibility that we would be anchored offshore aboard the ship for 30 days before being allowed to disembark. We weren’t sure whether to pack or not.

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This morning, the captain provided an updated announcement. We will anchor at 3:00 pm as planned. The QM2 is disembarking all passengers, then will vacate its berth. We will move into that berth on March 17 at 7:30 am. At 10:00 am, all passengers will disembark for the final time. Regent will provide all passengers with two nights of hotel accommodations in Perth.

Gail is feeling much better today after a couple of days on antibiotics. She is back out in public aboard ship, and we are packing for our departure. Unfortunately, we packed with the expectation that we would not be getting on an airplane, so we have way too much stuff. Fortunately, Regent will ship home four pieces of luggage per person at their cost. We just have to decide what to keep for our short stay in Australia.

Our cabin in the midst of packing

One of our packing challenges is our accumulated pharmacy

Another packing challenge is this 3' x 4' corkboard world map

We bought it partly to cover up this unattractive piece of art on our cabin wall

We were able to scrounge cardboard, bubble wrap and packing tape (thanks everyone!) to pack things

We still have hotel reservations for a week in Fremantle. Our family and friends back home have advised us that we might be better off here than in the US. America is in the midst of “The Great Shutdown,” with reports of public places and services closing down, food and necessities in short supply, and health care providers being strained.

Once we disembark and set foot in Fremantle tomorrow morning, we will know if things are any better on this side of the world.

Our arrival in Fremantle. We are anchored offshore, along with a lot of freighters.

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