tv QA Journalists Michael Smith Jonathan Franklin on the COVID-19 Outbreak... CSPAN July 24, 2022 10:58pm-12:01am EDT
made ge the most valuable company on earth, his strategy ultimately destroyed what he loved so dearly. >> the book the man who left capitalism on this episode of footnotes plus. footnotes plus is available on c-span now or wherever you get your podcasts. announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these companies and more, including buckeye broadband. announcer: buckeye broadband supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front-row seat to democracy.
♪ [indistinct conversation] aboard have tested positive for covid and 189 passengers have reported flulike symptoms. four have died. they are two days away from florida. >> we would like to have medical personnel dispatched to the ship. >> governor ron desantis said having the ship dock would be a mistake. >> i would like to ask ron
desantis what his decision would be if his mother was on the ship . how would he feel if another passenger died because they are not able to receive the probable medical care they would have received in the hospital? susan: michael smith and jonathan franklin are with us and their new book tells the story of the early days of the pandemic. there were hundreds of cruise ships caught in the early pandemic limbo. what is it about the van dam that made the story so intriguing? >> you can see it go out in the last moment. 45 minutes before the boat goes out, the state department was saying that no one should be at sea. it was like the cruise ship was
gambling that one more ship could go out. it seemed like the one ship and the 2000 people aboard were one of the last ships to go out and it really is a journey that symbolizes a lot of the horrors we went through. susan: before we learn details, michael, how did the two of you come to work together? michael: jonathan and i have known each other for a long time. he lives in chile and i used to live there. we have always been friends and respected each other's work and have collaborated on at least one story for bloomberg businessweek. so when i wrote the feature story about this cruise, jonathan showed it to his agent, who called me and said, you have to do a book. i said at the time i do not know if i can handle doing a book. i have a day job to keep, it's
the middle of covid, i have kids. jonathan convinced me i should do it and if i needed help, he would be happy to help. i took him up on the offer. susan: it reads like a page turner and a movie. have you been approached about movie rights? michael: we are looking into it. we are hoping that it will turn out the way we wanted to but we are waiting. we are open to any offers. [laughter] susan: you never know who is watching. jonathan, let me ask you about another question. throughout the book readers find you cite documents, emails, etc.. i'm wondering about how cooperative the cruise company and government agencies were in your work and how challenging it was to get there attention as the pandemic continued. jonathan: as we were investigating, we repeatedly
worked out to carmen -- two carver not -- carnaval. we got virtually no help despite repeated inquiries. same thing with the government. they cited freedom of information as -- acts. the cdc was ridiculously stringent with what they gave out. so was hhs. but the australian parliament had done an inquiry into another outbreak so through the investigation done by australian parliament, that is where we got hundreds of leads and sources and pages. susan: has the corporation responded to your book since it has been published? michael: not so far. they gave us a boilerplate response to our book, it may be a couple of sentences basically saying they did everything they
could to keep people safe, as they always do. but we have not really heard from them as the book was published. susan: let's get into some particulars about the zaandam. who owns and operates the ship? michael: it is part of the holland america line, one of the cruise lines owned by carnival corporation, the largest, one of the largest leisure companies in the world. it is basically under the carnival corporation. susan: what country is she flagged under? michael: different ships are flagged under different countries. the zaandam is under the dutch flag but the corporation has subsidiaries all over the world, in places like panama and other
places, bermuda and other jurisdictions outside the reach of the u.s. and that complicated the issue. susan: jonathan, tell me specifically about the passengers overall on this march 2020 cruise. what was the population and where did they come from and what were their ages? jonathan: about 1200 passengers aboard. they tended to be european. british, french, australian, american. a northern hemisphere crowd. they are on average 65. many of them over 70. it is a nature cruise. you are supposed to see glaciers and killer whales and get lectures that night. this was a city cruise -- sedate cruise, a special occasion
cruise. not everyone getting drunk. everyone almost was therefore an anniversary or a birthday. this was quite expensive for people. they had saved up for years for this trip. there was a lot of expectation it would be a grand voyage. susan: what size crew is needed to serve 1200 passengers? jonathan: 600 crew on 1200 passengers. 1800 total. susan: michael smith, give us more detail on what the corporation new march 7 and march 8 as people were boarding the ship to take off. michael: carnival and holland america said they had no reason to suspect that covid would come aboard, mainly because they were sort of in part of the world where there were few cases. argentina had about a dozen cases of covid at the time. i think when death.
-- one death. but the company had more experience than other cruise lines in dealing with the devastating impacts of a covid outbreak on cruise ships. they had gone through the diamond princess crisis off the coast of japan weeks before. and they were in the middle of the grand princess crisis, covid outbreak off the coast of california at that time and they had already gone through the ruby princess that ended up in australia. they were all very serious, deadly outbreaks that the cruise line had experience with before the zaandam set sail. so they had more experience than anyone in the world in facing a horrific disease like covid
within the confines of cruise ships. susan: where was the cdc and guidance to the corporations and/or passages at this point? michael: the guidance the cdc had given given the experience of the previous outbreaks was that cruise ships are extremely vulnerable to covid-19 virus in terms of rapid spread. the experts told us at the time that the cruise ship is basically the perfect storm for spreading disease because of confined space, the number of people per square meter, and the fact that it is just a place where virus can really spread. so the cdc was certainly warning the cruise lines about this and they were well on their way to
declaring that basically know cruise ships could leave u.s. ports. that came a few days later. so the cdc was quite act of -- active and were urging cruise lines to take care. susan: but you reported that the cruise lines were actively lobbying in washington to allow them to continue cruising. what was going on behind the scenes in washington between the corporations and government health officials? michael: that's right. they ramped up lobbying in march or before. basically the lobbying effort came later in 2020 after cruising had been shut down basically worldwide to allow ships to get back in the water,
to restore cruising. they basically lobbied for the cdc to tell them what they needed to do to be able to return to cruising, what protocols, and approves the protocol so they could get back in business. that was the thrust of the lobbying and persuasion they were carrying out in washington intensively. susan: let's move to the zaandam . three crew members are through lines in your story. one is the captain, captain smith. jonathan: what is interesting about this ship and a few is that they have not changed much. it is very divided by race and nationality. this captain smith is dutch and many officers on the ship are dutch and he has risen in the
ranks. one positive thing about holland america is that they hire from within. if you become a captain it is almost like becoming an admiral in the navy, you work your way up. so smith caught people's eyes early in the career. a fantastic leader. the kind of guy who would go into the hall and check the parts and go to the bar and talk with people. extremely compassionate and his ability to calm down people in crisis was a major factor. to this captain really rises to the occasion and is kind of trapped because he is the captain of a ship but a pawn in a big corporation. we were never able to fully understand how much autonomy he had because he is taking orders from the shore throughout much of it. but in some key moments you can
definitely see powerful leadership and he becomes a voice of cohesion aboard the ship. susan: we hear from crewmember erin montgomery. who is she? michael: an interesting woman. she is a mom who basically, once her kids got older, decided she wanted to go back to work. she is a chef by training and got her first job on holland america cruise lines by being a celebrity chef on board. kind of like reality shows you see about celebrity chefs. doing episodes on board for the passengers. she is a remarkable lady. gregarious and charismatic woman who was perfect for that kind of job but shortly before the zaandam cruise, a few months
before, she got promoted to a new position of sanitation officer. this is a position that was created in the wake of a federal case against carnival for illegally dumping wastewater in u.s. waters and as part of the plan to comply with the law, the company created this post and put people like her on the ships. so her job was to basically police all of the sanitary regulations, make sure there was enough chlorine in the pool, the dishwashers are hot enough, and that all medical records were being kept property and procedures were being followed. that was her job going into this particular cruise and she directly oversaw all the folks
responsible for washing dishes and disposing of garbage and that sort of end of the operation. so that is basically who she is and that knowledge base and her responsibilities led her to pay a lot of attention to what was happening when it became apparent that covid was aboard. susan: jonathan, one of the people who reported to her was another major character is de arto. jonathan: he is a remarkable man and a symbol of a lot of people who work on cruise ships. a lot of the times what the cruise companies need are very hard-working people who speak english who they can pay minimal wages because the contracts for
many of hundreds of people from indonesia like him or from thailand tends to work rungs below the officers and passengers. kind of a second world you probably never see on a cruise ship. he was working in the laundry room and on contracts that were six-month contracts, seven days a week, minimum 10 hours and often more in pretty stifling conditions. there are no windows, they are doing laundry, they are sewing uniforms, ironing sheets. so he is part of the invisible army that is out of sight from passengers who was really toiling day and night and he is remarkably committed to the company.
he has worked there for decades and he sends money back home to his sons and wife in indonesia. susan: what are the medical office of the medical facilities on board a ship of this size? michael: the zaandam, every cruise ship has a medical center . it used to be called the sick bay and star trek. -- in star trek. it is decently equipped but small. on the zaandam there were two doctors and four nurses to give care. cruise lines have perfected this over the years and by design they feel like that level of staffing in normal conditions, they are confident it is enough. the medical center has some sophisticated equipment. this ship had a ventilator, oxygen therapy supplies, ekg,
stuff to monitor heart issues. all the basic medical stuff you need to stabilize a patient if they have even serious problems long enough to get them on shore to get care in a proper hospital. that is basically the way medical care was designed across the industry. susan: since the corporation was aware and had dealt with the brakes on other ships, did they stock any covid -- and had dealt with outbreaks on other ships, did they stock any covid tests? michael: they did not before departure. the company told me the reason was because they were very hard to get, and remember at the beginning of covid, they were hard to get, it is true. also they felt they were not
completely reliable, would you could argue. the point was they did not have any on board. susan: jonathan, erin as the sanitation officer was confident they kept the virus off the ship. what were the articles -- what were the protocols? jonathan: what is interesting is 10 days before the ship and barked, one of the chief medical officers posted short videos. in retrospect, they are almost tragic because you can see on one hand he is the chief medical doctor that knows something could get on board but he tells passengers, bring your own thermometer, cough into your arm like this, and he shows them how to cough. almost offhand he says, you might want to consider checking
to see if your travel insurance has medical evacuation. he says this as if he is talking about the difference between cashews and peanuts. it is so offhand but in retrospect it is remarkable because the passengers are promised certain things, that they will have temperatures checked, passengers from certain countries like china will not be allowed on board. and the passengers we talked to were stunned. they said they were looking at their passports, opened it up and said, whatever, come on board. many did not have temperatures taken. people aboard bragged they had just come from china. so it seems there was talk of enhanced screening but of all the passengers we talked to, the most remarkable thing is they would board the ship and say, were not they supposed to screen? what happened to the screening?
so passengers on board were already worried. susan: how long before the first case appeared? michael: the first cases started appearing publicly roughly one week, a little more than a week into the cruise after they stopped in a port. but i want to back up one second about the protocols in place, what erin was speaking about. they put plexiglas between the buffets and food, they stepped up, according to her, they stepped up deep cleaning and sort of other procedures aimed, more hand sanitizers, those sorts of things. that is why she felt sort of confident.
and the cruise line had a questionnaire you had to fill out and it is unclear, some people probably did have some screening when they got on the ship but it definitely was not across-the-board. anyway, sorry. the virus really started becoming apparent about one week into the cruise, although some people we talked to, looking back on it, say they noticed certain people were getting sick, coughing even before that. so it leads some people to believe the virus really got on the ship may be from the beginning. but we do not know anything publicly. no one has done a comprehensive study that has been released that strays -- that traces it back to the beginning. susan: erin montgomery herself
had symptoms that matched with covid. how soon into the cruise did she get sick? michael: she started feeling sick very soon. she had no way to really confirm it was covid because there were no tests. but she was pretty confident that's what she had based on symptoms and how she felt and also because she had had training at the cdc for this job as sanitation officer a few months before the ship left and there was a lot of talk about what covid is like and what the symptoms are like and here is what you would feel like. based on that she was pretty confident she got sick early, maybe even at the beginning. susan: jonathan, if she is the sanitation officer and exhibiting covid symptoms, which she empowered to take steps to
change the approach on the ship? jonathan: we spoke quite a bit with her and others on the ship and there seemed to be a see no evil approach. not clearly a willingness to acknowledge. she at one point is kind of like a lone warrior. she described her going through medical files she had access to and double checking sanitary things and it was almost like this crazy kind of puzzle she put together. it was not the medical team, it was the sanitation officer. she started writing down room numbers and she discovered a cluster of an outbreak and informed her superiors but many times passengers would complain about coughing and the staff would just let them cough.
she felt there was an effort to not check to see if it was covid. susan: at the last port of call on the standard voyage, 1000 passengers are disembarking in this town in chile and the mayor there was very worried. how did the chilean government respond to his concerns? michael: the mayor of that city, the southernmost big city in the world close to the capital, anyway, the mayor was quite concerned because they were terrified of cruise ships bringing people who were infected with covid. they really had not had hardly any cases up until that point. they had one, one of the first known cases in chile was someone
who came through town a few days before from a cruise ship and ended up on the next docket getting very sick, a british man who had to be evacuated. so when he saw the zaandam coming into port, he was concerned, and so was the chilean government. they sent a contingency of health officials onto the boat to look at medical records and talked with the doctors on board and get all the assurances they could that no one had suspicious symptoms getting off into their town. once they did the exhaustive review, they allowed the passengers off the ship. but yes there was quite a bit of concern that the ship was going to bring the plague to that part of the world. susan: did you follow-up? because in fact there were cases on board the ship and i believe
crewmembers -- 1000 passengers disembarked. did it cause an outbreak in the city? michael: i was not able to get documented proof but the mayor is convinced that after that ship came through, there were people who got covid that spread in his town because cases started going up after the ship left but there is no proof that is the case. because other ships were coming through and there are other factors. but the mayor and others in the town were concerned. susan: jonathan, you tell the story of a couple on board who visited a friend who ran a shop in duty-free. what is the warning they got from that proprietor? jonathan: the proprietor is like i might get back on the ship and find a safe haven.
it was remarkable that the people on land in the previous stop and this stop had a higher sense of alarm than the ship. the ship was seen as this floating bubble. in both places, locals warned people who came off the ship, find a safe way home soon. and we even see this as the boats go off to see, one couple grabs their suitcases and rushes off and the other passengers almost laugh. but to their credit, one couple saw the light and got off the ship. but they were warned to find a way home, a tsunami is coming. susan: when the ship left that port and went back to see, at what point did the no sale order
gets issued and who issued it? michael: everyone got off for the day trip in the town and got back on and the ship left that evening. the plan was to go down further south to a beautiful region in argentina and then through the fjords in a typical cruiseship root. -- route. the argentine government said, we are closing all of the ports and the chilean government said we are going to close all of our ports by morning. so make plans for that. so the captain made a u-turn so
to speak and tried to race back to the port to get people off the ship before they closed ports. susan: captain smith announces over the intercom that the cruise is ending. what were passengers told what happened to them? jonathan: first they were told they would be able to go ashore and book flights. there was the thought they would be able to book flights, that they could work out a diplomatic solution. it's kind of confusing for passengers and management because there was a diplomatic push. there was a thought that somehow they would be able to create a travel bubble and go up the coast and convince the chilean government to let them off the boat and would have some sort of sanitary root to the airport --
route to the airport. but it became a journey to nowhere. susan: in terms of timing, the ship was out to see and received -- out to sea and received word. michael: they received word that ports were closing at that moment. the captain said basically we cannot make it in time but we will go there and wait at anchor outside the bay -- outside the port to see if we can find a way to negotiate safe passage. regardless, the cruise is going to end and the plan was if they could not get off at that port
they would go up north to a port close to the capital and try to get people off. susan: things start accelerating on board the ship while negotiations are going on. one thing people were -- will probably find interesting is that march 16, corporate executives essentially told the crew to create as many activities as possible to keep passengers occupied and forget unpleasantness. did you come to understand why that kind of order would go out when there is a virus on the ship? jonathan: it's remarkable because even being generous with the idea that you have to do something with your passengers, this idea, the carnival cruise motto is choose fun.
it is stunning that they have already had four outbreaks by then. they know they have elderly guests onboard and they pull a salon titanic and tell the band to keep playing. susan: what happened in the medical bay and the number of passengers who were ill at this point? jonathan: the medical bay is just to stabilize people. if people are particularly sick on a normal cruise, you can pull into a court and get them -- into port and get them to an icu. there were lines out the door. we ask people when they first started noticing coughs. and at this point there is just a chorus of coughing across the
board and people are lining outside this small medical center, both crew and passengers, seeking help. many were not deathly ill but there is clearly a raging outbreak on board. susan: michael on march 17, the carnival corporation was tracking the ship at sea. what were they watching globally? michael: carnival has a very sophisticated system for keeping track of their ships. at that time they had 100 come up more than the british royal navy, of -- they had more than 100, more than the british royal navy, of ships. so they built a command center
where you can see data about every ship and where it is and what is aboard, what is going on and people who are trained to do that. we were not there but from talking with people and understanding how they work, they were trying to maintain an accurate picture of where the ships were and how to get them home because a lot were still out to see -- sea and they wanted to get them back safely. that's what they were trying to do with the zaandam and it was complicated because they were so far from home, the base was fort lauderdale. they were on the other side of the world and it was sort of a increasingly hostile world where
every country in south america like everywhere else was reluctant to let a cruise ship dock because of worries about spreading disease and they basically said, you cannot stop here. susan: the diplomatic complexity of this seems astounding because all of the ports and countries closed to the ship but all the different nationalities on board between crew and passengers, all of those governments in having an interest helping their citizens. so how did that effort yet coordinated? who was in charge of perhaps leading the negotiations to help the zaandam? michael: it was quite remarkable. i would say in south america of u.s. state department led the charge, not necessarily by
virtue of policy from the top. the trump administration was reluctant to get deeply involved in crises like these more than they had to. [laughter] but the state department diplomats on the ground and at some high level in washington, one of the core missions of a diplomat posted abroad is to bring americans home when in peril. that is the number one thing they are trained to do. so you had a ship with a lot of americans on it in peril. so they moved into action. other countries did the same. embassies in south america, the u.k. for example. and it really built up to what happened outside the panama canal. susan: before we get to that, we have about 20 minutes left and i want to get a sense of what life
became like on the ship once the lockdown was ordered on board, march 22. a british passenger showed a video of her cabin. it illustrates what life was like. >> watch the television, spent a lot of time watching where we are, watching tv, going nowhere. my sister and two of our friends are in a cabin. i am disappointed to hear that people are debating whether or not we should even land. humanitarian rescue. we need to get to our homes. susan: michael smith and jonathan franklin are talking to us about their book, "cabin
fever: the harrowing journey of a cruise ship at the dawn of a pandemic." so much detail in the story. let's fast-forward to the decision to bring the ship northward to the panama canal. the panama canal has a big decision to make about if they will let the ship go through. we have to say it wasn't just one ship. tell us about the arrival of the rotterdam and what the job was as the zaandam made its way home. michael: if you are in leadership with holland america or carnival cruise lines, you have a ship filling up with increasingly sick passengers and crew. but no one will let you on shore. so they took an empty cruise ship off the coast of mexico, the western coast of mexico, and
they asked for volunteers from different ships and got the fastest ship, the rotterdam, and filled it with extra doctors, nurses, medical supplies, and they looked for a meeting point. the panama government agreed to let the meat off the coast of panama -- let them meet off the coast of panama. so you had these two ships headed towards each other. susan: how did they get the ships to pass through the canal, knowing there were many sick people on board? how did they get to yes? michael: they were extremely concerned about allowing any ship with covid on board through the canal because they were worried the canal pilots, the
people who steer every ship goes through the panama canal, you have to have a local pilot who knows the water, otherwise no one gets through. they were really worried the pilots would get covid and not be able to do their duties, which was to essentially shut down the canal -- which would essentially shut down the canal, which would be horrible. some came back to the diplomats of multiple countries to form an ad hoc unified coalition to work all of the contacts they had to convince panama there was a way to get ships through safely. that is what turned the tide. susan: jonathan you talk about the pilots who volunteer knowing covid was on board, to make the transit and they did it in record time. what is the typical passage and how long did it take these?
jonathan: it often takes 12 hours and they went through in about nine. what is remarkable is one of the impediments to getting the ships through the canal is that panama said that under no circumstances would they force anyone to pilot the ships through the canal. then they had a different problem here they had so many volunteers that they had to take the people who were least likely to become extremely ill if they become infected. they were able to select from volunteers. panama really showed an amazing amount of humanity here. panama had little to gain by letting the ships throughout a lot to lose. there was a sense among the union workers who have a big voice and who goes through and who doesn't. they thought if they could figure out how to get that ships through the canal, the rest of
the world would be able to figure out how to let the ships dock and port. panama was pretty clear that their actions would reverberate around the world and i think it was remarkable that when it came down to the actual pilots, putting their lives on the line, no one is going to force their hand and the pilots were so willing to take the risks that they had a surplus of volunteers. susan: final week of march and the ships are in striking distance of home port. what was ron desantis's view? michael: governor desantis was quite resistant. he was really worried, he said he was really worried about the ship basically going up and spreading covid at an extreme rate all over south florida.
he said that was his biggest concern and the only way he would get behind this is if the cruise line made sure everyone would be taken off the ship in a bubble, and taken straight to the airport and put on charter flights out of florida. he expressed his main priority quite clearly, to the consternation of a lot of people. that is what they were up against and the trump administration was not very engaged, the white house. people in the federal government below that like the coast guard, cdc, were working miracles to make it happen but they had to overcome political resistance, which luckily they did. susan: as the days progressed
one can only imagine cases on board increased and some people were very sick. michael: correct. there was a very dramatic situation shortly after they cleared panama in the caribbean where they really needed to get some people off the ship, they were running out of oxygen in the medical center. they tried, they made a desperate attempt to stop on a tiny island that is part of columbia -- colombia. they ran into political opposition despite her x -- despite heroics once again. susan: president trump on march 31. let us listen. 9 what -- reporter: what help are you offering florida and the
cruise ships? trump: we will be speaking, we will be speaking to the governor and we will be speaking to him soon. but we have two ships, people are sick on the ship. we don't want to be, like, they will be go ships. people turn the ships away. there was a ship in a certain part of asia and no one would take it but in the meantime you have people dying on the ship or at least very sick, but they are dying on the ship. so i am gonna, i am gonna do what is right. not only for us but for humanity. these are big ships and they have a lot of sick people. i will be speaking to, i will be speaking to the governor. susan: that was march 31. how soon after that did desantis relent? michael: pretty much the same day. it did not take long for him to come around.
who knows, maybe he would have already come around but president trump, when he came around that helped things. and of course the ship did make it quickly after that to florida. susan: april 2, zaandam came into the home port and you have another heroic captain at the helm, tom cooper. what is his story? michael: he is quite a remarkable man. i spent a lot of time with him. he took me out on -- to show me how he does his job. it was similar to the pilots in panama. as soon he heard about the zaandam, he started saying, to his pilots in the florida everglades, we have to help. we have to do anything we can to
make sure it comes in safely and i will volunteer to do it. and a lot of his copilots volunteered as well. he said when he saw that all he could imagine was his grandmother being on that ship, dying, and the world turning its back. and he said, that is just not what you do. so he was ready and he rallied and he agreed to take this risk. it was a real risk of going into the confines of a cruise ship that has a serious covid outbreak and doing what he had to do. this is really just one of so many stories of heroism and real courage we found in researching the book and what unfolded. if it were not for the heroism of members of the crew, a lot of passengers, and people on shore like these pilots, i think the ending would have been a lot
worse. that is really what the story is, just how people step up and risk their lives for strangers because it is the right thing to do. that is what we had on the ship and on shore and a lot of cases. this particular captain is a good example of that. susan: jonathan, you set the scene as passengers disembark. 13 ambulances lined up. what was the state of the passengers on board? how many died and how many got sick? jonathan: during our research we kept finding deaths that were not on the official record. it does not seem there was any public acknowledgment of how people -- of how many people died. we would say at least six. but we have rough estimates. hundreds were infected. dozens hospitalized.
bit by bit it is still being pieced together but it was clear there were at least two dozen very ill people. so when the ship comes in, there was a row of ambulances and they were rushed to icu and several died afterwards. susan: and the story was not over for the crew. what was their feet? -- their fate? michael: they were stuck in limbo in every cruise ship in the world. tens of thousands of workers on ships who were not allowed to get off by the governments. in the case of the zaandam and rotterdam, the crew was not allowed off because officials were worried about covid spread. so they were taken back out to sea for weeks and weeks while
the cruise lines tried to figure out a way to get them home because cruising was ending. it was this really monumental exercise in figuring out how to get tens of thousands of people to the far ends of the earth. most workers are from indonesia, the philippines, etc.. and there were no flights. and flying in private aircraft was extremely expensive and not what cruise lines wanted to do. so they were in limbo for weeks on these ships as cruise lines figured out a way to get them home. susan: let's wrap this up. i am wondering if there are particular lessons about the zaandam, or whether this is just the story about a moment in time. michael: i think there were
important lessons. first of all, the lesson anyone should take away is if you want to go on a cruise ship, be prepared for the risks involved. this is not something that began with covid. there has always been disease outbreaks on ships and you should really take it into account and with a disease like covid that was so deadly and god knows what else will be coming in the future, it is something to think about. the other lesson is there are other ways to make cruise ships safer, which the government has required cruise lines to implement. we will see if it works. but also the importance of if you are going to go on a cruise ship, you should be vaccinated against covid or anything else. in fact, you are required to be vaccinated on almost all ships. but keep that in mind.
be up to date on your vaccinations for all kinds of stuff because it is really easy to get ship -- really easy to get sick on a cruise ship. susan: what is your take away after all of this investigation about the carnival corporation and holland subsidiary about the decision-making and communication prior and during the cruise? jonathan: it is easy to look at the way it unfolded and say they knew enough to not send out the ship and they could have made that decision i didn't. they had their reasons -- that decision and didn't. they had their reasons, i have no way of knowing what really drove them. i know they did not want this to happen i did not think it would. they made a calculated risk and lost. so i think the company has learned a lot from that and i
think that they are going to be much more reactive and proactive when it comes to the threat of disease and any major risk to a cruise ship, i think they have probably learned that from this horrible experience. but they have not been extremely transparent. they certainly were not very communicative with us. we did our best to get more of their insight and it was not very successful. but i think they certainly have learned a lot and have had to adapt and change because the government has required them to. susan: jonathan anything to add? jonathan: not necessarily on carnival because mike summed it up but it is important to look at what a psychologist called post traumatic. he talked about passengers and
crew who survived this and not only came out strong, but stronger. we had examples of passenger as -- passengers and crew who were able to look at their lives and their outlook towards what they would do after this, they came out with a stronger and more positive outlook in life. people saying, as much as i suffered on board, it has made me a better person. susan: i assume the zaandam is back at sea? michael: yes, they restarted cruising not that long ago. they are back out and hopefully it will never happen again on this ship or any other. one thing i want to stress about our book is, if you read to the end, it sounds horrible, everything we have been talking about is horrible but if you
read in the end, we will see there is a lot of redemption. so many people we talked to who survived, which was most, thank god, came out of this with a new lease on life. they were determined to enjoy the good part of what is left of their lives and not dwell on the petty or revenge or that sort of thing. so i think that is a really encouraging ending to the story, along with the tales of courage and heroism. so it's really a story of human survival and redemption in a way. susan: thank you to both of you for spending an hour with c-span. you're going to close a little differently today because one of the people with a happy ending story is anne and we found a video she made in the middle of the lockdown on the ship when
things were at the most challenging. she composed a song that we will close with. will you tell us about her? jonathan: she is a musician and one of her ideas was to save up enough money to buy instruments. she is from holland and knew nothing about cruise ships and early on she was stressed and having panic attacks. but she also spoke french and she found a mission translating for the doctors, helping patients. when she was locked in her room, she found strength she did not know she had and to this day in certain ways she is so appreciative of the small things in life, being able to go for a walk, go to the supermarket and get something instead of having crappy food dropped at your door on a cruise ship. so she is a person who has had