A Killer Cruise

I’m going to tell a personal story and hope you regard it as useful rather than self indulgent.

As regular readers may know, I am currently on a cruise with my family.

If you ever think of going on a cruise, and you value your life, avoid Oceania Cruises. Safety is paramount, and they blew it before we even got on the ship.

My mother has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the result of many years of chronic bronchitis. As a result, her activities are restricted. For example, she can walk at most a half a mile at the speed of 2 miles an hour before needing to sit down and rest. Poor quality air or high altitudes make matters considerably worse.

I was responsible for accompanying her to the port of embarkation. We flew into Europe overnight, and as I gather is customary, a bus picked us up along with perhaps 25 others who came in around the same time.

When we got to the dock, before boarding, we had to go through immigration at a small building that handled all the ships on that pier. From where the bus stopped, it was a very long walk to the facility, and passengers then had to double back to the bus and go a way beyond to reach the gangway. It would have been beyond what my mother could do even in ordinary circumstances, and to make matters worse, it was 90 degrees outside.

As soon as she got out of the bus, she had a coughing attack triggered the fumes from the many boats idling at the dock. She was in obvious distress, coughing violently with every breath, and nearly collapsed. Despite my attempts to get the staff to help (and I am pushy), it took 20 minutes to get a wheelchair to her and perhaps 40 minutes to get her on the ship into air she could breathe. The staff made no effort to expedite clearing her through immigration (by contrast, wheelchairs at airports go to the head of the queue). They considered it more important to keep the herd moving rather than to deal with a health crisis. There was no sense of urgency, and no apology afterwards either.

Needless to say, I was ready to turn around and take her home, but that isn’t exactly an option when your return flight is an a completely different city.

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