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It’s two weeks since our last emergency drill, which means it’s Emergecy Drill Day again. At 10:30am the ship’s emergency alarm was sounded; 6 short blasts followed by one long blast, and everyone dutifully grabbed their lifebelts and headed towards their respective muster stations.

On the plus-side, they had us congregate outside on the deck, beneath our allocated lifeboats (ours is lifeboat number 9), instead of us having to sit around in the Connexions Lounge and then march outside with one arm on the person in front’s shoulder, as if doing the conga. The whole process of having to stand while cabin numbers are called, to confirm everyone’s presence, and then to listen to the PA announcements in triplicate (English, Dutch and German) feels much longer than it needs to be, but that’s just the way it is. You can sense the frustration in a few passengers who begrudge having to repeat the whole exercise every two weeks, with some quite blatantly refusing to put their lifejackets on when asked to do so. In some ways, you can’t blame them, but in another, I can’t help feeling that it probably isn’t a bad thing to keep folks reminded of what to do in a crisis. Hopefully, none of us will be involved in a real-life maritime emergency, but if we are, is it not better that the memory muscles of what to do kick in at the appropriate moment?

Things are looking up with the ‘situation’. One of the pools has been opened today, and the Bistro is finally open again for dinner, which we’re very happy about. Classes still remain suspended for the moment, and the passenger laundrette remains closed, but it feels like we’ve turned a corner and things are slowly starting to return to normal.

An announcement from the Captain confirmed that, due to the ongoing cronovirus situation, and various Health Organisation and Home Office recommendations, the ship’s planned visit to China has been cancelled. Instead, the Columbus will be stopping off at Osaka and Nagasaki, in Japan. If we had been going further than Sydney, I think I would be perfectly happy with those alternatives. Folks who have paid for Chinese visas, will be hoping to get a refund, though (not from CMV, who are not to blame for the situation, but from their Travel Insurance, or from wherever they bought their visa from).

Peter Woolley

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