Heroes and others

Heroes and others

Crew died in the explosion and fire on board Oceania Insignia yesterday. People, guests and crew were up for more than 24 hours in a state of wakefulness and discomfort. This was a tragic event. The energy was sadness, and compassion. Of personal grief and worry combined with positivity with people helping each other in a crisis.

There was a passenger woman doctor on board that we saw throughout the evening. At some point earlier people had witnessed her delivering CPR to one of the crew. Later as we sat around in wait, she had summoned an ambulance so a few of the elder and more frail guests to have a place to lay out, relax and stay calm.

Most guests moved me to tears. Couples of climbing years and deep affection for each other, in embrace, or sleeping sitting up, beside each other in chairs. With obvious mobility issues and ill prepared for such discomfort and inconvenience were quietly and patiently waiting for what was happening next. Getting each other a sandwich and more water, holding chairs and sitting in quiet witness.

People were walking around in their newly purchased gift shop ware. Probably purchased for an aunt or ailing mom, or even one of the kids or grandkids, ripped off tags and wrapped up for warmth and comfort, ‘Welcome to St Lucia’! Even others were good sports and wore their bathing suit cover ups all day, some twenty four hours without even so much as a towel. Some guests had been swimming in the ship pool when directed to leave the ship by staff, no longer rehearsing a drill.

People in wheelchairs and with walkers finding spots to sit and wait.

Tensions high for some, and in small groups people could work themselves into rage. There is always something to do to help. I walked around wishing people well, touching shoulders gently and commenting on how nice looked or how calm and helpful everyone was. Food was provided, none gluten free, except apples which I am allergic to! My friends found and scrounged oranges and grapes. Water bottles were plentiful and there were adequate bathroom facilities and plenty of places to sit together in groups.

I tried to keep in touch with the other nine passengers I was traveling with and even some new faces I had already met and connected with on the cruise, now fun familiar faces. No one had anticipated this would, so soon, be our only time together.

Lists were provided and plans underway to move some guests to Miami and begin their trip home. The cruise was over, no one could go on ship. Staff milled about and then attended meetings and disappeared. Later we were to see them packed up and heading home and or to other ships for work. This cruise is ended, the ship is cold and dark and not going anywhere, soon.

Everyone feels the discomfort of not having fresh clothes, toothbrush, iPhones, credit cards, and so on. Ships personnel were helpful in locating emergency medications for people and passports needed for the flight back to the United States. Some passengers were adamant to not leave without all of their belongings however this was not to be so.

As the sun rose this morning, 20 plus hours from hearing of the fire, we were the last bus to leave,the ship pier and head to the airport an hour fromCastries, on the island of Saint Lucia. We too were flying off the island. Three and a half hours of uncomfortable flight in a chartered plane, no food or warm blankets, we endured more wakeful discomfort and sure knowledge that our precious belongings were not coming home with us as we had hoped.

Met at the airport by Oceania delegates, after clearing customs (nothing to declare!), we were welcomed and ushered to the bus to spend some time cleaning up, eating and learning of the next travel plan. I was sent to the Hilton in Miami where I was again happy to reunite with some of my travel group for breakfast and purchase of warm oversized Miami tourist hoodies!

Cleaned up, redressed in a sandy tired bathing suit, I wait for my shuttle to the airport to begin a series of flights back to Victoria.

More to come!

Ciao for now,

Tired in Miami,
Love Pamela

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