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WEATHERING A STORM

Travel during COVID-19 Outbreak

As another week passes, and the outside news gets crazier and crazier, with travel bans at the forefront, and big cruise lines canceling, we continue to evaluate how our summer is shaping up.

As a captain, I feel like this is very similar to how I plan for weather and storms. There’s a lot at stake. Every day I make multiple decisions about the voyage, the vessel, the weather, the guests, the crew. It’s what I’ve been doing for 29 years as a captain. I’m continually checking and updating my decisions, and trying to use as much new information as I can. One of the biggest hurdles is to avoid weighing one’s prior decisions over new facts. Just because it was forecast to be calm when I left the dock doesn’t mean that continuing into big seas makes sense.  Checking and rechecking myself doesn’t make me wishy-washy; it’s how to make safe decisions.

I make a lot of decisions by playing out the consequences in my head and thinking about how I would explain it afterward if it didn’t go well. It’s part of my training and experience. If I can finish the sentence that begins with “Well, your honor, the reason I was doing that was because…” in a way that seems plausible, it’s probably not such a bad idea. I use a risk/reward model as well. In this case, the reward (the grandeur of Alaska) is high and the risk is still low.

At this point, like before, we’re still operating as if our summer is going to go as planned. Right now, I still feel like it’s safe. Each new piece of news or information makes me re-evaluate the decision and each time I come back to the same decision: We’re still going unless it becomes unsafe or impossible for our guests, our boat or us.

In a lot of ways, I feel like this decision is like all the nautical decisions I’ve made in my career. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of hand wringing and a lot of worry. There are big stakes. I feel like I’ve been training my whole life to make this decision.

 We’re still going. Things may change. I’ll reevaluate then.

Captain Jeffrey