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March 19, 2020
The Odyssey (Australia version)

Russell writes…

Greek mythology tells the story of Odysseus, the king of Ithica. Following the Trojan War, Odysseus wants to return home. Apparently, he has done something to anger the gods, because it takes him 10 years (!) before he sees his home and family again.

Today we checked out of the Westin Hotel in Perth. Our time under Regent’s protective umbrella has officially come to an end. Going forward, we are on our own. (For that reason, we are going to stop showing the world map of where we are versus where our world cruise would have been. That has outlived its usefulness.)

The question is: Where do we go from here?

Back home in California’s Bay Area, the seven-county lockdown has been broadened to three more counties. Everyone is to shelter in place until “at least” April 7. Stores constantly run out of food, but assure folks they are restocking. Lines are long, but at the same time roads are empty. Everyone at home recommends that we stay in Australia.

Here in Australia, there is a 14-day voluntary quarantine for people coming from elsewhere. Otherwise, people are currently free to go out and about. The government is taking proactive steps to prevent hoarding. They have learned from the successes and failures of other countries.

For now, we believe we are safer and healthier in Australia than in California. At the grocery store yesterday, we had no problem purchasing emergency food supplies, including granola bars, honey, peanut butter and flatbread.

As long as Australia avoids a lockdown, we will take advantage of our time here. This is the first time we have been in Western Australia, and we doubt we will ever be here again. We would love to explore Australia’s west coast. We want to reassure everyone back home that we will prioritize our health and safety. When we checked into the Westin, Gail wiped down everything in our hotel room. If Australia’s social situation changes, we will adjust our plans accordingly.

(Yesterday, Gail also left breakfast without paying her bill. Oops. Too used to life on a cruise ship.)

Some folks have recommended that we check in with the US Consulate in Australia. Unfortunately, the Consulate has asked people NOT to contact them. They don’t even answer the phone.

We have purchased new suitcases for the journey ahead (our old ones were falling apart)

Where is the Regent Seven Seas Mariner? Our World Cruise Social Hosts Nunzio and Sienna tell us that the entire crew is still aboard the ship. She left Fremantle yesterday and is backtracking across the Pacific Ocean. She will have 16 sea days and ultimately disembark in Miami.

(The Mariner needs to be in Miami because Regent is hoping to resume in May for a Miami-to-San Francisco cruise. This also happens to be the final segment of our aborted world cruise. Should we try to go back aboard? Hmm…)

“Cruise Ship Enrichment” is the service Russell uses to apply for cruise ship lecturing jobs. The industry is currently experiencing a rough patch. (Click for a larger view)

Cruise line stocks are also taking a beating

In other cruise news, there are three other ships currently berthed in Fremantle, the port where the Mariner disembarked. Passengers are either not allowed to leave the ship, or they have disembarked and been sent directly home. We are extremely fortunate that we had already been in Australia for 15 days, so we were not considered an “international cruise.” When we disembarked, we didn’t even need to show our passports.

This next story was relayed to us by two different sources but we have not corroborated it, so please take it with a grain of salt. The Queen Mary 2 occupied our berth in Fremantle before the Mariner did. We heard that when it arrived, some passengers disembarked for day excursions, while others remained aboard ship. When the excursion passengers tried to return to the ship, they were not allowed to board. They were told to leave Australia immediately; their luggage will be sent home to them. Meanwhile, the passengers who remained aboard ship were not allowed to disembark. They will continue an abbreviated cruise that will take them directly to their final port.

Again, we are extremely fortunate to be in our current situation. We are here in Western Australia with no restrictions. We can move freely about, we have access to food, and we are together. For now, we are eager to continue our adventure. We have morphed from world cruisers into wanderers.

And hopefully, our ultimate journey home will be shorter than that of Odysseus.

Princess was one of the first cruise lines to completely suspend operations. But they have a message for prospective cruisers.

And the Sky Princess displayed this inspiring message!

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