Today, we were supposed to dock in Le Digue in the Seychelles islands. Originally, we would’ve already visited Madagascar, but were notified of an itinerary change a few days before this leg of the cruise began. Instead, we would visit Le Digue, a small island in the Seychelles where there are plenty of opportunities to visit the beach, but not much else. Very few taxis exist, so the cost to get to the beach is 30 Euros (so 60 round trip).
Two days ago, everyone on the ship had to fill out a health questionnaire for Seychelles immigration that also included questions about where we had visited in the past 28 days. When we turned them in, we had to have our temperatures checked by the ship’s physician. When we docked at Le Digue , early on March 10th, immigration officials would plow through the forms and let us know who could and who could not get off the ship. Clayton and I, like many of the passengers on board, had embarked in Italy, a hotbed of coronavirus activity, and so weren’t too sure we would pass muster.
In the end, it did not matter. At around 9 pm on the 9th of March, the captain came over the ship’s loudspeaker to let us know that the officials in the Seychelles were denying us the opportunity to dock, other than to refuel and pick up new crew members. We would not be stopping at Le Digue at all, adding another sea day to our already sea day-loaded itinerary. We would dock just long enough on the 10th to refuel. And, our stops in Mauritius and Reunion Island are also up in the air. NCL is talking to the officials in those countries. The Sun Princess was just denied docking in both locations, so I cannot possibly imagine they would allow us to dock.
That leaves our 3 port stops in South Africa. Since we are supposed to disembark in Cape Town, I profoundly hope that we can dock there!
So, of the 20 days on this cruise, we have docked in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, and Muscat (which we have visited 2 to 3 times each previously); we may dock in Richard’s Bay, Port Elizabeth, and Mossel Bay, South Africa (TBD), and will have been at sea 13 days! Not exactly what we had planned, but at least the toilet is now working (most of the time). We have only had 3 non-toilet days on this leg.
When we entered the buffet this morning for breakfast, we found that new procedures had been put in place overnight – no more serving yourself so much as a cup of coffee. Instead, the buffet was bustling with servers that would dish up your food for you. We got there early since we are early risers, so there were no issues. I am curious how things went when the crowds showed up. For lunch, we ate at a restaurant rather than the buffet. The menus had been replaced with sheets of paper, which were then disposed of after we used them. The captain’s announcements at noon included a reminder that if you were having any gastrointestinal issues that you could be screened at the medical center for free. Cruise ships rarely do anything for free, so I am wondering if there are norovirus cases on board. I don’t think norovirus would prevent entry to the ports that have been cancelled (coronavirus fears is to blame for that), but would explain the extra hygiene efforts.
We shall see how things progress over the next few days. I will post an update as new information becomes available.