adventures abroad, travel

March 26: Too Much Excitement, Plus Antigua

Just before I dropped off to sleep last night, there was an all-hands request for any cardiologist who might be on board to respond to an emergency. That is NOT a good sign.

One prays for that situation, even as one falls into an exhausted early sleep.

A couple of hours later, a crew member was banging at my door – all the doors — waking me out of a blissfully deep sleep. Our cabins were being evacuated to support a medevac procedure.

I am not proud of the fact that my first reaction was disbelief and anger. Why do we have to wake up for this? Couldn’t they just confine us to cabins since we’re asleep anyway?

I put that up to having been finally sleeping off yesterday’s all-day headache. And no real context for what’s happening or why.

But pretty shortly that gives way to concern for the passenger. And for their family. This is all NOT good.

Then for the crew who were probably also sleeping when this happened, and had to get up after their own long day, and disturb guests they’ve spent a week trying to keep happy, and will have to get up to do that again tomorrow. Er, later today.

Ultimately this all is for our safety, in case there’s any challenges with the helicopter in the variations of wind and water, that we not be directly in the line of threat.

It takes them a while to get things settled enough in the lounge they throw us into, for staff to make announcements.

Then a little later the captain comes on for a ship-wide announcement that the helicopter is inbound in 5 minutes; upper decks are closed to anyone not involved in the procedure. Balconies on the latter half of the ship (those on decks not actually evacuated, one assumes) need to be closed to avoid fumes. No flash photography on the upper decks. Four minutes to helicopter arrival.

Over the course of another 45 minutes, they have, in turn, turned off the otherwise ambient party music that’s always in that lounge, which was hindering both our ability to hear their announcements and to stay relaxed. Bottles of water have been handed out. Snacks have been gathered from the one 24-hour facility at this hour, and offered to us. Blankets and towels are handed out to those that want them.

We’re being made as comfortable as possible in the circumstances.

Nearly an hour into the evac I realize they have no more news but they’re still setting up more stations for warm drinks. Tea, coffee. They’re thinking we’ll be here for a while yet.

That’s not a complaint: just an observation.

Finally it’s all over, and we’re allowed to return to our cabins. The elevators are socials; how to meet and bond with your neighbors.

(The elevator system is not optimized for first day boarding OR emergencies – where everyone will be moving from a single floor. There’s no call override to ensure elevators keep coming even though one is present, or that a full one can leave when the call button is pressed again. Considering that there’s always an onboarding day, and there’s presently supposed to be elevator capacity limits for COVID, it seems like a future enhancement opportunity.)

It’s nearly 2am when we’re all returned to our cabins.

We’re unlikely to ever know what happened with the patient. Every facet of the situation says it was incredibly serious, and we’re pretty far from the nearest care center here at sea. We pray and we hope… but we’ll probably never know any more than the update at 9am: that they resting in the ICU in Martinique.

It turns out by the time they got us out of bed last night, we had sailed north toward Martinique (not on the itinerary but closer to medical care). So for obvious reasons, we are NOT having an early day in port today. Between the hours in another direction and the medevac stop, we’ll now get to Antigua at closer to 11am. No need to call the excursion desk; they are getting all the tours rescheduled and will notify us of the changes. One can’t ask for more.

Anyway we can all accept our breakfast deliveries and then go back to sleep if needed.

The poor staff, on the other hand, is on the go like nothing happened.

Actually our excursion is cancelled. I make it down to the desk before they close at port to go handle the excursions themselves, and get us on something else.

S really wanted to see Stingrays on her last
cruise but they were canceled because Caymans wasn’t accepting passengers.
Probably because they can’t be counted on to follow the rules re masking and distancing.
Stingrays – pre swimming
S held one named Lulu.
Posted with her permission
Antigua is too beautiful!