When news of a new virus started to trickle out it seemed remote. It was happening somewhere else and didn’t impact us so we didn’t really pay much attention. The stories and images coming out of Asia were heartbreaking, but thankfully it wasn’t our reality. Until it was.
It’s important to remember that while cruise ships have medical centers staffed with qualified, professional medical teams, they are not intended to provide acute care. They are not hospital ships. When cruise ships started to report flu-like symptoms onboard, and guests from prior voyages started getting flu-like symptoms, it had the same effect on the cruise industry that it’s had on many other industries. Everything froze. The priority was, and remains, the safety and well-being of the souls on board. It is a foundational priority of the cruise industry, and so the search began for the best option to dock ships and ensure the sick could get the medical attention needed.
It’s been disheartening to see the number of ships refused entry into ports around the world. It’s understandable that decisions have been made with the health and well-being of local communities in mind, but it’s also important to remember there is a critical humanitarian aspect to consider. With sick guests and crew, and 4 reported deaths on one ship, allowing a ship to dock so the sick can be properly cared for, is by definition a humanitarian effort.
As we watch this tragic drama unfold we can’t help but wonder if there’s a reckoning in our future. We say we care and want to help, but do we really? When we’re faced with the person or situation that desperately needs us to put aside our fears and biases, are we up to the task? Do we have what it takes? Are we willing to help the stranger, not just the friend? We should imagine for a moment that we are on one of those ships, at sea for 14+ days desperately seeking safe harbor, only to be turned away by every port. Maybe our parents are onboard. Maybe our grandparents. Maybe our siblings. Maybe a childhood best friend who’s like a sibling. Maybe it’s a favorite aunt or uncle. Or our child.
We’re all part of the same human family and now is when we need each other most. Local governments have always found creative ways to overcome challenges. Although this challenge is unlike any other in our lifetime, we nonetheless have a responsibility to each other to help when and where we can, and let our humanity be the guiding force that compels us to do the right thing.
This post was written by cruise industry expert, Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.