What it’s like cruising during a pandemic

An FAU student attended a cruise to the Bahamas during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic — and doesn’t regret it.

FAU+senior+Faisal+Scott+on+a+trip+to+the+Bahamas+after+the+coronavirus+was+declared+a+pandemic+by+the+World+Health+Organization.+Photo+courtesy+of+Faisel+Scott

FAU senior Faisal Scott on a trip to the Bahamas after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Photo courtesy of Faisel Scott

Regina Holloway, Staff Writer

On March 11, FAU senior Faisal Scott got a text from his father asking him to seriously reconsider going on a cruise to the Bahamas because of coronavirus concerns. Just hours later, the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. 

Two days later, Scott still boarded the Royal Caribbean with his friend and their family and didn’t come back to Miami until the 16th. 

For Scott, there was no reason not to joyfully accept a free ticket to Nassau, Bahamas. For his close friend Brandon Cordy, cruise trips weren’t new to their family, as his mother was planning on this vacation being her 29th. With his 21st birthday and his parents’ anniversary in May, it was the perfect opportunity to get away during spring break. A trip including a stop to the ‘Perfect Day at Coco Cay,’ Royal Caribbean’s private island and tourist spot, was just the ticket everyone was looking for. Scott knew it’d be the perfect vacation, as he’d already gone on this exact same trip five months ago. However, he and Cordy had never had a vacation like this.

 “I was under the impression that it was just going to be like me and Brandon and his family, but it ended up being him, his family, his brother’s girlfriend. And then it turned into this massive group of almost 20 because his parents surprised him on the cruise ship,” Scott mentioned. 

Although the massive entourage Scott was sporting was full of fun, the moment they got onto the cruise ship, trouble came for their cabin.  

“Literally as we were leaving the Port of Miami, I think two hours right after we left, we had all gotten the notification that they were going to cancel all cruise ships in the next 30 days. And we were like, ‘Wow.’ We were literally looking at the Port of Miami Beach. I’m just thinking about it, we were on the very last cruise for 30 days. No one else was going to be out there with us.”

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Cordy had mentioned that this eerie feeling was reinforced by the state that the cruise was in.

“It was a larger ship, but there was only about half capacity. So there weren’t a lot of people in the way or doing any events [on the ship],” Cordy also listed out some of the little things the cruise line and its staff were doing to keep everyone as safe as possible, despite such a low population. 

“They were making you wash your hands everywhere. They had stations for it before food and stuff,” Cordy said. “They tested us before we got on the boat for our temperature. It just felt like even though I didn’t know much about the virus, precautions were being taken so that took out the worry for me, so then I could focus on having a good time.” 

 Because of or regardless of all these precautions, Cordy and Scott described the cruise as “completely normal.” No ports were closed, and there were plenty of attractions and restaurants available off the boat. Scott and Cordy took plenty of cheesy island-time pictures and took advantage of all the available pools and foot bars. The most interesting thing Scott noticed about the whole trip, however, was the camaraderie between all of the passengers. 

“People were a lot more willing to talk about things and I think it’s because of the pandemic. Most of the conversations were centered around the pandemic and what was going on,” Scott, a psychology major, said. 

When Cordy and Scott boarded the cruise, there weren’t any cases of COVID-19 in Florida, nor were any stay-at-home orders put in place, so they and many other people they met on the cruise had plenty of jokes that they made while travelling. They heard quips like “corona cruise” and saw people taking pictures by the pool with masks on. 

However Cordy and Scott described the ship was a “carefree bubble” that was far away from any of the trouble that was brewing in the US, and many of the passengers they interacted with found light in what no-one on the ship knew was a sinking situation. 

Things were so carefree, Cordy said, that he only had one serious conversation while on his vacation with one of the waiters on the last night before they returned to Miami. 

“He was mainly talking about how his life is going to change for the next month as there are not going to be any cruises and they’re out of a lot of work. So he was more serious about that and not necessarily [getting] the virus,” Cordy said.

 Though there was some concern about arriving back at Port Miami, the whole four-day trip went as planned, with no hiccups during sailing or quarantine when they docked. Arriving back on familiar ground was a strange experience for Scott, especially when he immediately went back to his apartment to self-isolate for two weeks, as per President John Kelly’s instruction in his “COVID-19 Update.”

With the help of his roommates, Scott has been able to get groceries and necessities all while never leaving his closed quarters, regularly checking his temperature and adding in extra vitamins to his diet to boost his immune system. Scott is looking forward to being able to see his family when he knows he’s in the clear, but was very serious about only going home to Melbourne, FL when he was sure he wasn’t feeling sick.

While Scott stayed self-isolating in Boca Raton, Cordy didn’t even go back to get some of his things from Savannah College of Art and Design before moving back to Jacksonville with his parents. 

“It  literally was a shell-shock moment. It was like, one moment [coronavirus] was just talk and then all of a sudden this was reality,” Cordy said.

Cordy and his family looked to the news and the CDC to find out that they should self isolate for 14 days, and, even after that time, still be extremely careful. Cordy has not visited his grandparents since his return, and says he’s very careful about washing his hands and checking his temperature, even at home. When the family does need to get groceries and other necessities, Cordy and his family wear masks and only allow one family member to go into stores. 

Still, both Cordy and Scott can’t find any reason to regret their cruise. 

 “I think a lot of [us] were like, whatever. Like we might as well just have fun now, because the moment we get back we know we’re going to be entering a whole new world.”

Regina Holloway is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected]