Tuesday 21 April 2020

Update from Oceanwide re: Fleet return to base

#expeditioncruising .

We are relieved and happy to report that after weeks of sailing, Hondius has finally brought the first of our staff safely back to port.

The first of our ships to arrive after the Antarctic season, Hondius reached our home port of Vlissingen without incident yesterday. Plancius and Ortelius are predicted to arrive this Thursday, carrying the bulk of our crew and guides still in the field.

To say the folks aboard these vessels have had an interesting return trip would be a serious understatement.

Hondius was able to disembark all guest passengers in Ushuaia before Covid-19 closures began systematically barring ports along the South American coastline. This meant that Plancius and Ortelius, which were a few days behind Hondius, had to hopscotch from port to port until Montevideo allowed us entrance.

None of our passengers who disembarked in Montevideo reported any symptoms of Covid-19.

Not only that, but these beloved guests also remained in admirably good spirits throughout this drawn-out and unexpected ordeal, humbling us with their resilience and appreciation during delays that only further exacerbated feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Many of our guests wrote us fantastic letters after their return. One such passenger was Cassandra Zook, who wrote, “We easily could have ended up with a ship full of hysteria. But the crew and staff went above and beyond to keep us busy with entertainment, informed about COVID-19 and our ship’s situation, and to assist us in getting home once we eventually docked.”

Travel agent Margie Tomenko added to this, writing that “The professionalism and kindness shown on this voyage is a testament to the excellent reputation of the staff and main office of Oceanwide Expeditions. Many courtesies above and beyond were extended.”

And Donald Jorgensen said of our staff, “They did not consider their work complete until every guest had a plan to return home.”

One of our guests even wrote a poem dedicated to Plancius. Now that’s a first!

All of this is to say that we are beyond grateful for not only the safe return of our passengers and colleagues but also for the strength and patience both parties demonstrated in the face of these considerable challenges. All of you make us proud to do what we do.

And for our folks still aboard Plancius and Ortelius, we’ll be waiting for you with open arms – at the appropriate social distance, of course.

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