It’s the flu, people

Portrait of young man drunk or sick vomitingYou may have heard that late yesterday, the Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world is skipping a day at sea and coming home early due to…norovirus. I say you may have heard this because it was on all the nightly news on about every network and it will be covered by the other media. This is another thing I get asked about all the time by our non-cruising friends. “Aren’t cruise ships dirty? Everyone keeps getting that norovirus thing.”

Well I just have to say this…it’s the flu. The 24-hour stomach flu that you and I have been getting since we were kids. (See the CDC description here) But because people are in such close proximity to each other on cruise ships it tends to multiply a little quicker than other places. But not all other places. Schools are just as bad. Colleges, especially dorms and Greek houses. Then why do we only hear about it when it happens on cruise ships? My guess is that it’s because they actually do something about it on cruise ships. They take people home early. They stop and clean the entire ship. They sanitize beyond belief…because no one likes to be sick on vacation. Take it from someone who got a horrible cold on our last vacation, it’s a terrible place to get sick. All you want is your own bed, your own medicine, your own TV shows and books to distract you and you feel like you have to struggle through.

But it just frosts me that every time this happens, a huge deal is made about it. On the Oasis this time, 277 people are sick as of a day ago. 277 out of more than (counting crew) 8,000 (quoting ABC Evening News). And it makes headlines. Now let’s take any 8,000 random humans. My guess is that there are pretty close to that many of them sick at any given time. But because this happens on a cruise ship, we make a big deal about it.

Yes, Royal Caribbean did choose to cut the cruise short by one day so they can completely disinfect the ship. We have seen them do that and they do an awesome job. And yes, the  people on the cruise will be disappointed. But Royal is refunding them for their entire cruise and they can take their next vacation pretty much free. And for all but 277 of those 5,000+ guests, they got a pretty decent vacation to start with and they get another one for free later on. Do you think if any of those folks had been on a land-based vacation at a hotel and they got the flu, that the hotel would have given them a free week’s stay? I doubt it.

So the next time you see a news report that there is a norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship, just remember this message—It’s the flu. Brought to you by this guy who loves to cruise.

 

How did this happen??? Part 2

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Meet Jason and Seth in one of their favorite places, on a trip.

So a couple of days ago I gave you the first half of how we wound up in the travel business…this fast. As I mentioned in my first How did this happen” post, we were just going to start training last January and Kathleen might get into the actual business in March or April and I would follow when my time with my other business was over in two or three or more years. But a year ago, on Christmas Eve (2017), we met two of our favorite people for breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Lola in downtown Seattle.

First let me introduce these two guys—Seth and Jason. We first met Seth on Twitter about six years ago when he moved from Eugene to Seattle to become the morning weather person on KOMO television news. From the start he would talk about cruising and traveling on the air so we started following each other on Twitter and then he followed us and we began a dialogue that led to a friendship. In the morning when I would ride my exercise bike, Seth and I would text back and forth with Seth about cruising and travel because I might have been the only person texting him at 4:30 am. We had never met but we were becoming friends.

In November 2014 we (Kathleen and I) went on our second Panama Canal cruise with our buddies the Martini Mates. When we arrived in our stateroom on Celebrity’s Infinity in Fort Lauderdale we found two bottles of wine. One was from our travel agent at the time (the amazing Norma Jean) and the other was from Seth. He had tracked us down, ordered wine and had it delivered to us…and we had never even met him. What a guy.

When we returned from the Canal we thanked him and told him that we just had to meet sometime. About six months (and a lot texting and Twitter) later he asked us if we wanted to join him and his husband Jason for lunch on a Holland America cruise ship while it was in port for a media day. We jumped at the chance as we would finally be able to meet him and talk in person. Since then we have met up with Seth and Jason a whole bunch of times, they have been to our place, we have been to theirs and we have become friends.

Which brings us to last Christmas Eve. We had told the guys that we had a surprise to tell them about when we met. You see the biggest thing that Seth and I have in common is that we both LOVE to plan travel. We will literally both grab computers after dinner and price airfare just for fun (seriously…much to Kathleen and Jason’s exasperation). When we met, that morning we told them we were going to be travel agents/consultants with Expedia.

They were thrilled for us and Seth asked me a kind of a strange question. He asked, “Will you be doing group travel?” I told him, “I guess we will. We haven’t really started yet.” That was the extent of it. We spent the rest of breakfast just talking about travel and stuff as we always do.

Then about 10 days later, Seth called me and asked if now that we had started our training, if we would be willing to help him plan and book a cruise for some friends to celebrate his 40th birthday in September 2018. He figured that we might end up with 20 or 25 people on a three-day Royal Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas. First, I was beyond gratified that Seth would trust us with this. He has never been a huge fan of travel agents. His feeling was (and I can verify that it is the truth) that he knew more than they did about travel and cruising. Second, I was scared to death that we might screw it up. I had booked a bunch of cruises over the years but just for us. And I had never done a group. And we had done about three hours of training at that point. YIKES! But we said yes. How hard could it be? One of those situations where we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

The first thing I learned was…we couldn’t do it half way. We couldn’t book a group cruise with Kathleen starting in March or April or with me starting in 2021. We had to go all in right then. We really had no choice but to go all-in in when Seth invited more than 80 people thinking he would get 20-30 people and we wound up sailing in September with 62. If I do say so myself, the cruise was a HUGE success. There will be more about this cruise in future posts but for now, I just need to thank Seth and Jason for putting their faith in us. And for being our great friends.

Lastly, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” —Thomas Aquinas

Grandkids!

IMG_1165Ok, so I know this is supposed to be about travel but I am still just using these posts for two reasons. The first is to continue to learn WordPress. The second is to get into the habit of writing every day which I plan to do for 2019. I promise to revert to more travel-worthy topics in the new year. Plus I promise to sneak some cruising stuff in here as well.

Yesterday our two grandchildren (and their parents) came to see us from East Wenatchee (about 120 miles away) to celebrate my birthday (a day late) and Christmas (five days early). You have to understand that these two (Mason and Maylee), are the light of our lives. Mason wasn’t feeling too well but Maylee was at her best. And as it happened, Kathleen wasn’t feeling too well either.

They usually come over sometime before Christmas so that we can do some kind of a Christmas event and then exchange Christmas and birthday gifts. Which brings me to the mention of cruising. Our birthday gift for them this year is that we are taking them on a seven day Alaska cruise this summer on Royal Caribbean’s (RCL) Ovation of the Seas. The grandkids have never been on a cruise but their parents did one on RCL for their honeymoon in 2005.

So for our Christmas event I took them (Kathleen stayed home with both a bad head and stomach ache) to Enchant at what is now T-Mobile Park (used to be Safeco Field). It was a pretty amazing light show but that was about it. We had a great time with the kids but if they do it again next year, it’s not worth going back. It’s a one-time thing.

And as I write this (about noon on Thursday) they have left to take our precious grandkids home. We miss them so much but we FaceTime with them twice a week and will see them again either in January or for Mason’s birthday in February.