Were You Prepared For 9/11?

The view from my balcony this morning.

I probably didn’t mention anywhere in here that I’m a big fan of cruising. No, not cruising on a Harley, or cruising up and down the nearest teen hangout – I am talking about cruising on a cruise ship. I know, there’s nothing much going on that’s survival-related when cruising, but maybe there’s more to talk about than first impression would suggest.

What I am really talking about is – what would happen to a cruise ship full of people of the shit hit the fan during their cruise? Well, maybe I know a little bit about that myself, since something very like a SHTF scenario happened while I was on a cruise years ago.

They called it 9/11.

My husband, Howard, and I had just boarded the Norwegian Dream the day before. It was a beautiful day, as are most days in Vancouver that time of year. Maybe a sprinkle or two, but nothing major. We had sprung for an Owner’s Suite that voyage, because it was shoulder season (a time when fares are lower due to likelihood of bad weather) and the rates were excellent! We also booked our airfare through the cruise line, since it was an open-jaw flight and the cruise lines can arrange those less expensively than almost anyone else can. I remember going under the beautiful bridge leaving Vancouver. Standing at the highest available point on the ship, it felt like we could almost touch the underside of the bridge, but of course, that was an optical illusion.

As hot tub enthusiasts, Howard and I decided to get up at 5:00 am the next morning to be the first in the tubs. It was kind of tough, because the changeable Alaskan weather had served up fog the night before, and we heard the captain using the foghorn all night long, about every minute. Undaunted, though, we got up, and after discovering that the hot tubs weren’t in operation at 5:00 am, we retired to our cabin to prepare for breakfast.

I switched on the television to see what was on the news, and noticed a tall building with smoke streaming out of it. Thinking I had happened upon the old movie “The Towering Inferno,” I impatiently switched channels to find some “real” news. As the channels changed but the picture didn’t, I soon realized that what I was seeing was not an old movie but a very real new event, and thus began the saga of How To Get Home. It was at that time I became very grateful for the fact that we had booked our flights with the cruise line, because How To Get Home immediately became their problem, not ours.

But in the meantime, there were a couple thousand other people on the ship who also had immediate problems that were not so easily solved. Some of them had no way to get home, so the cruise line fixed a room full of telephones (cell phones were not so ubiquitous then) set up with free calling for anyone who needed it. Internet access, as slow and expensive as it was, became free, too, but it was still just as slow.

A few things happened that I never expected. We had an excursion scheduled to see whales. Never happened. The boat that was supposed to take us out to watch the whales had a broken part and the only way to get a substitute was to fly it in. No flying allowed; no boat and no tour. Poor Captain Marvin had to refund my payment (I hope I have referred enough people to him in the years since to make up for his missing income – thanks so much, Captain Marv, for being honest!) Fortunately, the cruise ship already had enough food on it to last the week, but if it hadn’t, we would surely be in a world of hurt hunger.

We finished the cruise, because there really wasn’t any point in not doing so, since there was nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. In addition, the cruise line was legally obligated to give us a cruise, since we had paid for one. When we arrived back in Vancouver, many of the domestic flight restrictions were lifted, but our flight was international. The cruise line had to bus us over the US/Canada border, and put us up for a night until our flight out could be arranged for the next day. They did all this graciously and in grand style. We were well accommodated.

So, it all ended well, but was a major pain. Of course, none of this compared to the pain suffered by those murdered in this tragedy, and the effects of this attack on the U.S. go on even today.

My question to you is: were you prepared for the attacks when they happened? I definitely wasn’t, and it took a while before I figured out that I needed to make some changes in my life as a result of being unprepared in the beginning.

If you weren’t prepared, what changes have you made since 9/11 to be prepared for such a horrendous attack in the future?


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