Today our ship anchored just off the port of Semarang, Java bright and early. The evening before, we had received a two-sided health screening form, and were informed that we should complete the form and report to our designated Assembly Station at 6:30 am. There, we were to be met by the Indonesian Health Department authorities for temperature checks and health screenings. We were all there ready to go when we were informed that the authorities would be late. We waited…and waited…and then the incredible Viking Sun servers showed up with trays of mimosas and sparkling wine to brighten the mood! The authorities arrived at about 8:30, and EVERY guest and crew member sailed through the screening. The 12 authorities who had come on board stayed for lunch, and shortly thereafter cleared us to arrive in the port of Semarang. And we waited…and waited…and waited. It seems that the authorities in Surabaya, Java (the port we were scheduled to visit the NEXT day) had picked up a fake news story about our visit to Komodo the previous day. The story reported that based on the health screenings performed in Komodo, two possible cases of coronavirus might be on board our ship. The story was entirely false, as everyone had passed the health screenings in Komodo as well. However, based on that information, Surabaya decided we could not come. And based on Surabaya’s decision, the local authorities in Semarang overrode the authorization we had been given by the Indonesian government, and canceled our visit to Semarang as well. Our incredible Captain Lars negotiated a “technical docking” in Semarang to allow our crew to unload several containers of supplies that were already there, but the directive was that no one would be allowed off the ship. A little while later, the pilot showed up in full hazmat gear to guide us into the port. And for the next several hours, fork lift operators moved pallet after pallet of supplies. It was actually an interesting process, as cases and cases of wine, produce, paper goods, meats, and other supplies were removed from the containers, moved to the dock, then loaded onto the ship. We watched for a while, and were moderately amused by a line of “supervisors” wearing masks and drinking water watched the fork lift operators and our crew work their tails off!
We know this post is very different from most of our other stories, but we wanted to share a bit about how the virus has affected our journey. Even more important, however, is how uncertain the world has become as a result of Covid 19. Our itinerary has become day to day, and while this has been a bit frustrating as travelers, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what the people who are actually sick from this virus are going through. And it’s even less important than those who are caring for them, often under the most challenging of circumstances, with concern about adequate supplies and sufficient testing and treatment resources.
As we float around enjoying yet another magnificent sunset, our thoughts and prayers are with the countless public health professionals, healthcare workers, and researchers who are working tirelessly to combat this disease. And we remain grateful for Viking’s leadership in ensuring our safety and well being by keeping up with REAL information and providing CARE for each guest and crew member.