December 30, 2021—somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica.
I am writing this on day 6 of a 10-day quarantine on the Seabourn Ovation. It’s not just an inconvenience to be isolated, it brings on a lot of anxiety.
It has spurred my songwriting abilities: "Isolation is lonely, I know you get my gist. So bring me a martini with an Omicron twist."
It is so very easy for the cynics or those who think cruisers are an elite exclusionary class to dismiss the terrible hardship of cold lobster or soggy risotto. To them, I say: "Step back and think like a person, thrown into a situation beyond your control."
It is so terribly lonely to be quarantined, especially when traveling with someone you have been with for over 30 years and have never spent more than one week apart.
I have done week trips away but If one were on the other side of the world or away from you, the "out of sight" adage kicks in. But when someone you love is two decks away, well, not so easy.
The medical office called and said they are reviewing the guidelines and would like to get me out sooner! I told them I have developed Stockholm Syndrome where I have bonded with my captors and fellow prisoners and don’t want to leave, if they don't mind.
But this crisis is very real. Cruise lines did not create COVID-19 but it’s up to them to do the right thing.
Seabourn has gone far and beyond what is required. I am not talking about the free food, spirits etc that one thinks they feel obligated to do. I am talking about the "wellness checks" done in the form of phone calls, room service deliveries that go beyond their normal guidelines (one restaurant that is not "take out" became one during my stay), games, puzzles and even needlepoint, of which I was trying to figure out how to put together a rope to shimmy down for an escape from isolation.
This situation is new for cruise lines and we are all going through the learning process; Seabourn, the CDC, and passengers.
In our rush to get back to a new normal, there are obstacles thrown in our way and cruise lines are sometimes learning alongside us.
They are not looking to profit at the expense of their loyal customers. This COVID-19 outbreak and the Delta and Omicron variants have changed the playing field, day by day, hour by hour.
To paraphrase author John Steinbeck, "The best laid plans of mice and men are soon torn asunder."
I have gotten emails from Seabourn president Josh Leibowitz who reached out during this difficult time of separation anxiety.
His support has shown why Seabourn is a star brand; it’s not just about the food or the linens, it’s about the soul, the heart and the compassion.
I’m a retired PR guy and while I know how to spin positively, I also know how to confront those who are bad actors or don’t do the right thing. This company is doing the right thing and we are all learning along the way.
Advice for those who are quarantined? 1) Wake up, shower (and shave) every morning and put on day clothes. 2) Open all the blinds, make the bed, clean the tables so it’s a suite, not a sick room. 3) Use the phone as much as possible to speak to family and friends on the ship. 4) Do not be afraid to ask guest services for something. They know your predicament. 5) Limit drinking. While fun, it adds to depression and magnifies the situation. 6) Do a few sit ups. 7) Watch HGTV as the news is often depressing.
Remember this: the experts are the scientists; the rest of us, crew and passengers alike, are living in a new world where we cope, travel down a path, then find we have to reverse direction. It ain’t easy.
Barry Kluger, who ran his own firm for more than 20 years, is a retired crisis communications executive.