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March 17, 2020
Fremantle, Australia: Farewell Mariner

Russell writes…

Our morning proceeded as scheduled. At 7:30 am, the Seven Seas Mariner lifted anchor and settled into its berth in Fremantle. At 10:00 am, disembarkation began by group. Originally, we were told that we had to vacate our cabins by 8:00 am. Where we were supposed to go was anyone’s guess. At 8:00, Cruise Director Andy announced that “of course you can stay in your cabins until 10:00.” This was good, because our group was not called until 11:15.

We stepped off of the Seven Seas Mariner for the last time. As a final surprise, the entire crew stood along the dock in a gauntlet, waving good-bye to everyone. It was quite moving. Some of us – both passengers and crew – were in tears.

Disembarking from a cruise ship is always chaotic as well as sad. It was doubly so for us. We had seven boxes/bags that would be shipped home via a freight forwarder. We had four more bags we were keeping with us. Unfortunately, we had to take all 11 of them through customs before they could be sent on.

Everyone had to physically claim their bags and carry them through customs

There were only three porters for 300 passengers. Needless to say, we had to wait a long time.

Our last look at the Seven Seas Mariner

Originally, Regent bought out pretty much all of the Crown Tower Hotel to house us for the next two nights. This morning, the Crown Tower called Regent and said, “On second thought, we don’t think we want hundreds of people from a cruise ship staying with us right now.” Regent had to scramble, but they got us an even better hotel: The Westin Perth.

We are on the 10th floor. When we opened the door to the room, the curtains magically opened by themselves. No kidding. Gail is ecstatic about the amount of space we have, after months in our tiny cabin. We have a real table and counter space! Our bathroom has an actual water closet! On the other hand, our room overlooks the local COVID-19 clinic. No kidding.

Regent is giving every passenger a food credit of $160 per day. We tried having lunch in the onsite Italian Restaurant. It was the strangest Italian Restaurant we have ever been in. We should have just had bar food at the onsite bar.

After lunch, we tried doing the local Art Walk. We only got a few blocks before we had to return to the hotel, soaking wet from the pouring rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny; we will try again.

Welcome to Perth!

Most of the passengers from the ship are staying at the same hotel. We kept seeing familiar faces in the lobby, bar and restaurant. Russell boardgamed with his same group this afternoon. We had dinner with one of the lecturers from the ship. In many ways, it feels like we took the cruise and simply changed venues.

We were apprehensive about leaving the safe “cocoon” of our ship and entering the general public. But as we rode the bus from Fremantle to Perth, we noted that everyone is carrying on normally with their public lives. People are out driving and walking. A woman is walking her baby in a stroller. Stores are open.

Gail thinks that Australia is about two weeks behind the US regarding coronavirus. Back home in California, several Bay Area counties have just implemented a 21-day lockdown. Everyone is to remain sheltered in place except for emergency trips out for food or medicine. We continue to believe that we are better off staying here for a while. We will see how things develop.

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