Most of country may be on lockdown and social distancing may be the new norm, but one Indian River Shores couple says they’re ready to hit the high seas as soon as it’s safe to travel again.
Former Indian River Shores Vice Mayor Gerard “Jerry” Weick and his wife Jane have more than 250 days of cruising under their belts, and they can’t wait to add more.
It’s the couple’s preferred method of travel, explains Jane. “I do not like traveling where you pack and unpack and pack again and move on. I like to have a home base where I live, and then I travel from there. Plus, I get to not cook, not clean and enjoy the trip.”
The couple is hard-pressed to pick a favorite destination, saying rather it is “the adventure of the trip” they love. But Jerry reels off a few exotic spots that stand out, including French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and one of their most recent cruises, which took them from Singapore to Cape Town.
The couple clearly are not Jonahs – a sailor’s term that means someone who has terrible luck.
They disembarked with no difficulties from the MSC Meraviglia when it docked in February after taking a family cruise that made stops in Honduras, Belize and Costa Maya. Those that boarded the Meraviglia next didn’t fare as well. When one crew member took ill with flu-like symptoms, the cruise ship was turned away at one port after another as fear mounted around the world about COVID-19.
Eventually, the ship was permitted to dock at the island of Cozumel, where guests and crew finally got the all-clear to disembark after it was determined the coronavirus was not the culprit.
“It was the first time we’d been on a ship that big,” says Jane, adding that she doesn’t think being stuck on board would have been all that bad. “Being at sea is like being in a resort on a ship that big.”
Fast-forward a month and the only vacations being taken right now are staycations and those of the virtual sort. Jane says she has already begun to “window shop” for their next cruise, the one they plan to take when the COVID-19 storm has passed.
“When this all blows over, we’ll be back cruising. We’re definitely going to cruise again,” says Jerry.
Prior to the pandemic, the Weicks had three back-to-back cruises lined up on Oceania Cruises for a total of 36 days at sea. They were to travel from Miami to Athens in April with ports of call in Barcelona, Venice and finally Athens, with other stops along the way. Once they were notified that the first leg of their trip, the transatlantic portion, had been canceled, they opted to abort the entire journey.
“They’re actually being very generous,” Jane says of the cruise lines and airlines they dealt with. “They could have stuck it to us in all sorts of ways.” Instead, the couple received full credit for their canceled bookings, with up to two years to book a new trip.
The cruise industry is reeling from the financial impact of COVID-19 travel cancellations, and the Weicks are hoping that economic stress won’t “sink” their next adventure.
When asked if the virus will change their view on cruising, Jane says, “I have no concerns about it. We’ve watched what they do and how they handle everything. They are pretty fastidious about keeping everybody healthy.”
Jerry adds, “No matter where you go, if you’re with people, you can get sick. I think the cruise lines go overboard to be safe. You can get sick going to a hotel with Legionnaires disease like they did years ago.”