The Shenandoah ValleyMarch 23, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 37 °F
Wow! It makes us want to say “what happened while we were gone?” Things are very different than when we left home on January 24th.
Partway across the South Pacific, the advancement of COVID-19 starting breathing down our necks. It was advancing just behind us in countries we had just been (perhaps we should have stayed in Antarctica?). The threat then jumped over us and countries and islands ahead of us began closing ports.
We recognize our cruise line was trying to work out the best possible solution. Jeff and I briefly considered leaving in Tahiti, then more seriously in Fiji. As you all know, most recently, the numbers were increasing exponentially and that’s when we learned the cruise was canceled and we had applied for an exemption to dock in Sydney since they had already closed their port. After a few days being held on the ship in the harbor, we walked through a tunnel, got into a bus and went straight to the airport.
So the journey home began. We had our third set of tickets to go home from Sydney on 2 different airlines, but it was impossible to even check-in on line, much less get a boarding pass. The line at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter was impressive (we were second in line), because NO ONE was going to miss their flight. It was pretty quiet, no laughing or lighthearted fun. Getting on the plane felt like a life accomplishment. We took off 40 minutes before Australia closed their borders.
10 hours of flight time brought us to Honolulu, at which time we realized we had crossed the international date line so we had another day to celebrate (??) our 27th anniversary. It was definitely the most unforgettable anniversary we hope we’ll ever have.
We were happy to see hand sanitizers every 50’ at the Honolulu airport, but were stunned that our arrival on an international flight did not warrant any kind of screening or travel questions regarding COVID-19. Hello!! We’ve been on a cruise ship, in multiple countries and came from Australia! As one of our friends put it, we had a target on our backs (or, as we joked, a scarlet “C” for cruisers). But, nothing.
We noticed that about 1/2 the flights listed on the monitors were canceled. Ours looked good and we got checked in for our flight to Dulles. 9 more hours brought us back to Virginia. Not to dwell on it, but there was absolutely no screening or questions at Dulles, plus, 1 hand sanitizer between the plane and our car. What is this country thinking????
We got to our car, which some wonderful friends had dropped to the airport parking and stocked with hand sanitizer, and got back to the farm to quarantine for as long as necessary.
I will say again, this was not a hardship for us.
It was a shortened vacation and a challenge getting home. Nothing compared to the tragedy occurring in the world.
Our hearts go out to many of the crew on our ship that we became close to. Many of their families depend on their income to live. Quite a few of them were unable to go home because flights were either canceled/full or their countries had closed their borders. They are now traveling on a ghost ship with no guests and a reduced crew. They will be on for about 2 more months during which time they can stop to provision and refuel, but no one can get on or off the ship.
On that note, I am signing off for this trip. It didn’t turn out the way we expected, but we feel very fortunate to be home and see the arrival of spring as hope.Read more