This passed easily and our written declarations were examined and attracted no particular attention. A small number of passengers were individually escorted to a screened off area and it was not apparent whether they were allowed to board or not. It was expected that our itinerary might be changed to fit with the government health and immigration regulations of our destinations and that is what happened. Two ports of call were deleted, another was substituted and the order changed to arrive first at the Fiji Capital, Suva, before visiting another port. This was not a disappointment since we had paid for an Ocean Cruise with many sea days together with short visits to some very attractive Islands of the South Pacific and this is what we experienced. This was the prelude to what comes next and we happily disembarked in Sydney, two weeks later, with no reported cases of Arona Virus but news of one passenger suffering from shingles!
Grant's 70th Birthday was celebrated when we returned to Sydney where we spent two nights before journeying home. By this time the virus had hit the headlines and we were quite nervous about flying home on a direct flight with no stopovers. By this time the Australian Government were just about to ban all passengers originating in or transiting Singapore. On our outward flight we were in transit for 2 hours in Singapore, were subjected to a mass screening of body temperatures, but continued without a problem. The flight home to Aberdeen took some 28 hours altogether, was very tiring of course, but uneventful. Within days of arriving home the Australians banned most arriving foreign airlines, particularly those from China and the Far East and advised all foreign nationals to leave which caused a rush for bookings on the few remaining flights to Europe and elsewhere. It was also the final episode of Ocean Cruising in Australia as all arriving vessels were moored empty of passengers in the Sydney Harbour area.
It was reported some two weeks later that a flotilla of cruise liners was ordered by the Australian Government back to their home ports with all of their remaining crews on board. They sailed out of Sydney Harbour, one by one, watched by sad onlookers, their silhouettes eventually fading into the distant blue Pacific Horizon. Some of our Silversea Ships finally berthed near Marseille and Gibraltar with crews remaining on board, actually in quarantine. Five Scandinavian and other ships are moored for the time being at the entrance to the Forth Estuary by courtesy of the UK Government. Sadly, most of the devoted employees had no choice but to remain with their ships and were unable to return to their home destinations such as The Philippines, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, China and Europe. Most international flights at that point had been cancelled.
This is not a report of Ocean Voyaging but it, as a luxury holiday adored by millions, became the forerunner to the worst disaster, Arona, ever to be experienced by the cruising, holiday and leisure companies and their dedicated travellers. At time of writing the immediate outlook is zero for those eagerly awaiting their planned delights to come. This short report is part of a much longer ESSAY or Write-Up on the Corona Virus and how we have been affected. I was encouraged to submit it following the Culshaw's interesting Blog on the Islands of Scotland and started wondering how holidays might be spent beyond this point.
BILL CUTHBERTSON 7.06.20
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Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through the personal memories and opinions of our members.
We post on Tuesday and Thursdays. but not always every week.