As I am still finishing up organizing my photos and writing about Cambodia and Mauritius, I wanted to update you all with the the news we have had on the ship.
I have had difficulty finding time to post blog updates the past few weeks, as I have researched, planned, and booked activities and hotels, cancelled them, researched, planned and booked again, and cancelled those… this cycle has repeated so many times due to our numerous reroutes, and I am managing it all while still taking classes for school and writing several job and scholarship applications for back at home. It has been quite the time to study economics and international studies during this all! The stress and heartbreak of losing experiences in countries and losing money has been really difficult, but I am very thankful for the friendships and learning lessons and the opportunity to study abroad. I have loved my experience abroad, but it is unfortunate my life savings were put into a program that has been rerouted due to something out of the program’s hands. I mourn this loss while doing my best to remain optimistic and hopeful for travel in Europe, and praying for health to friends, family, and people across the world.
Like I said, we have had several reroutes. Our original itinerary of ports included Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, and disembarking in the Netherlands. As of today, we have been to Hawaii, Japan, Vietnam (where I traveled to Cambodia) and Mauritius, and we are on our way to Cape Town, South Africa. A benefit of these reroutes is I have gotten entended travel days in countries I never would have experienced the way I did with extra time!
With our original itinerary above, this layout of our reroutes may be more clear….
1. China cancelled, Vietnam extended.
2. Malaysia and India cancelled, Seychelles added, Mauritius and South Africa extended.
3. Mauritius and South Africa extended further.
4. Seychelles cancelled, Mauritius cancelled, Mozambique added.
5. Mauritius added back.
6. Mozambique cancelled, Mauritius extended, South Africa extended.
7. Ghana and Morocco cancelled, Las Palmas (Spanish islands off Morocco) added for two days, the voyage ending 8 days early, disembarking on April 12th.
I was bummed out about not going to China, as it was the port I was most excited for and I was planning on hiking the Great Wall. As I explained in my last post, Henry was meeting me in Malaysia, and several students on the ship were most excited for India. The night before arriving in Seychelles, we were denied entry by their government for the fear of Coronavirus. A lot of students lost money here, as bookings were expensive on the honeymoon island, and the changes were so last-minute that most students had booked events right before our ship meeting. We then went to Mauritius which was amazing, and after over two weeks on the ship it was nice to be on land; swimming on beaches and hiking in mountains. On the morning of March 6th, we were notified about the cancellation of Ghana and Morocco.
Last night we had a meeting with the CEO of SAS, and we were informed the changes were made due to fear that Northern European countries such as The Netherlands would not let us into their country if we had been to Africa within two weeks, and that going from one European port to another was our best chance of not being quarantined. Some of the students at the meeting last night mentioned that this is likely influenced on perceptions of race and infrastructure (that African countries are not reporting cases), rather than fact-based information at play, that there are 485 cases in Spain (including some on the islands) and 187 in the Netherlands, 0 in Ghana and 2 in Morocco (Stats from Worldometer as of 6:10 GMT March 8th). I agree with these students. I am glad SAS has kept me safe from countries where it is rapidly spreading, but it is unfortunate that race perceptions and fear (likely from European governments) has turned us away from visiting other countries.
We have the option to get off in Las Palmas or the Netherlands, as our last day of school is April 3rd, the day before arrival in Las Palmas. I am still unsure what I want to do. My decision will vary on factors such as how the virus has continued to spread in Europe, quaratine situations in Europe and at home, and travel with friends. I know the outbreak is spreading in Washington, with UW and Eastern closing campuses. I pray that everyone at home is staying safe, and I am unsure when I’ll be coming home. Hoping for the best!