Cabin Fever by Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin is a real-life thriller based on actual events. This book chronicles the lives of a select few staff and guests on the Holland America cruise ship, Zaandam as it prepares to depart from Buenos Aires, Argentina on an exotic 30-day cruise around the east and west coasts of South America and back to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. Departure date – March 8, 2020 (who can ever forget March 2020).
The book opens on March 6, 2020 as the ship’s crew begin the final stages of preparations to welcome the 1200 guests and 600 employees who will experience this world class sea voyage. Unbeknownst to anyone, an uninvited guest also takes residence, the impact of which will bring the ship to its knees. Once final preparations have been completed, the Zaandam leaves port on March 8, 2020 at 5:32pm. The mood on the ship is electric and any worries about COVID are left on shore.
Numerous staff, guests and administrative officials external to the ship were interviewed about their experiences during the voyage as COVID-19 began its deadly rampage. For most people on board this trip would test them in ways they would have previously thought unimaginable. We get a first hand view of the incredible commitment to excellence instilled in the staff, many of whom put their own lives in peril to keep the ship functioning during the lockdown. We feel the agony of the medical staff as they tried to treat the sick without having the proper medical supplies or equipment. The confined passengers, healthy and ailing alike, felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and frustration as they learned that the world’s countries had shut their doors to cruise ships and any hope of escaping their seafaring prison were dashed.
Fast-paced and hard to put down this book is a testament to personal strength, courage and resilience.