Double Standard Much?

We only made the decision to do the this trip once the CDC made its ruling Friday concerning how the cruise industry must behave in order to be allowed to sail in US waters and dock at US ports. Before that, we’d planned a 30th Anniversary cruise for June, doing a 9-day round-trip from Seattle aboard the Sun.

The Sun, docked in Alaska (via Wikipedia)

Let’s see, how does the order change that sailing? Can’t be for sure, but here’s my calculus:

  1. 9-day voyage – CDC max voyage length is set at seven days through Nov. 2021. With the caveat that CDC can shorten that arbitrarily at any time.
  2. Onerous burdens for passengers – it doesn’t appear to my reading that rapid tests at shipside and a negative blood test taken just before departure from home (as proposed by the Healthy Sail Panel) will cut it. To my reading, we’re going to have to have a blood test for COVID shoreside before boarding. That is going to cause longer delays in the enclosed spaces of cruise terminals.
  3. Everybody in, lock the doors, and sail for where you started from – if a (so far undefined) threshold of COVID is confirmed in passengers on any ship, the passenger(s) must be isolated and everyone else is quarantined. The ship turns tail and heads for the port from which it embarked.
  4. Wear a mask. Social distance. Take only cruise line-sponsored excursions.

Compare this to flying:

  • Wear a mask.Distance when you can. End of instructions.

Bus:

  • Wear a mask.Distance when you can. End of instructions.

Train:

  • Wear a mask.Distance when you can. End of instructions.

Doug Parker at CruiseRadio riffs on the double standard

Not to be outdone, the people of Key West have voted to limit total cruise passengers daily to 1,500. No docking for large ships. Election 2020: Key West Gives Cruise Industry the Middle Finger [via Cruise Radio].

A libertarian Take on the Whole Thing

Let’s look at this in the “little-L” libertarian framework for a bit. I can’t fault the people of Key West for voting as they have, even though it upsets me. They are absolutely the people who should have the final say on the cruise industry’s impact on their economy, natural resources, and so forth. I give them the benefit of the doubt that the impacts were considered by the voters rather than the result being ginned up by agitators.

Meanwhile back in Washington

On the one hand, the bailout bill gave billions of dollars to the airline industry, supposedly to save jobs. Air travel is still down, even with (or maybe a little because of) airlines back to their overselling ways, and there have been thousands of layoffs since the money ran out in October.

The point is, airplanes are flying. The airline industry got billions in bailout money, and guess what? It went to line executive pockets, not to keep line workers employed.

The cruise lines, however, have not sought nor received federal bailout funds. AND they have a government agency that’s in essence rent-seeking on the COVID status. Because CDC has the inspection authority over health and sanitation conditions on ships, it can set whatever rules it likes. Because if the lines don’t jump through the agency’s hoops, they aren’t getting the little piece of paper “Temporary Authorization to Sail” or whatever. The agency threw out a number of what I considered excellent recommendations by the Healthy Sail panel. And they made the process for getting the cruise industry back to work much more difficult than necessary.

But, but…

What about the fact that cruise passengers are in close quarters for days? Guess what, compared to an airplane we aren’t. Many cruise ship staterooms are larger than a commercial plane cabin (and they only have 1 to 4 occupants for extended periods). The lines have already committed to running limited capacity until this is past us. As in other public locations, lines are taking measures to help with distancing, and we can expect to be wearing masks in the hallways, theaters, and other situations where we can’t distance.

Aren’t cruise ships a “petri disk of germs and bacteria?” Nope. Everyone say it together now: “Washy, washy, happy happy!”

The bottom line

Canada will not decide until Feb. 1 whether ships will be allowed to dock at Victoria, Vancouver or other Canadian ports of call. That happened to be the 120-day mark before our cruise on the Sun. The risk of putting money into a cruise that was going to be less than we anticipated in just about all ways just became too high. So we started looking for ways to do something different, and from there came the back-to-back cruise idea.

To us, this is somewhat a mix between the Parable of the Loaves and Fishes and making lemons into lemonade.

Now we have 18 more months to save and make this trip something really special. I’ll write soon about all the things this kind of planning ahead (which is new to us) will enable us to do on this trip…many of them ideas that hadn’t crossed either of our mind as of five days ago!

712 days until embarkation!

Here are the links to the back-to-back trips we’re taking, if you might like to come along!

Seattle to Alaska (round trip)
Seattle to Miami via Mexico, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

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