Passengers stand on the top deck of the MS Westerdam while the cruise ship is docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

Passengers stand on the top deck of the MS Westerdam while the cruise ship is docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

Opinion: I look forward to the Westerdam’s arrival

“We are safer interacting with this group of people than many others.”

  • Saturday, March 7, 2020 1:33pm
  • Opinion

I am watching with interest the conversation regarding the cruise ship Westerdam’s plan to layover for a few weeks in our town before beginning its Alaska season.

Our daughter, a lifelong Juneau resident, was a crew member giving talks aboard Holland America America Line ships for several years, and we were able to travel to various parts of the world on HAL vessels, including the Westerdam. Holland America America Line, albeit part of the Carnival Corporation group, proudly maintains its Dutch heritage and registry. Most of the deck officers and engineers are from the Netherlands. As an aside, Americans visiting the Netherlands will notice that the Dutch are exceptionally gracious to us, well remembering our country’s armed forces who helped them during World War II. All of the crew people are hired to be exceptional international representatives of their countries and feel privileged to have positions that provide the income that often supports extended families as well as their own children and spouses. Get to know them, ask them about their life onboard. They work hard when passengers are present and have lately been sequestered for over three weeks. The least we, as a self-described compassionate community, can do is welcome them as they rest in a town that many of them are already familiar with from previous years visiting on a weekly basis. I look forward to seeing crew people enjoying Costco, Fred Meyer and other places that they look forward to.

We are safer interacting with this group of people than many others. For example, Rick and I are traveling tomorrow to San Diego via Seattle to the Juneau Golf Club’s Spring tournament in San Diego. I am armed with my disinfectant wipes and a container of tissues. When the clean Westerdam arrives later this month we will have some of the crew that we know out to the house for an Alaskan meal and a chance to sit in the living room and enjoy the beauty of Juneau. Regardless of your opinions about cruise ships in general, I encourage you to get to know some crew members — it would be a gift to yourself to be familiar with a few people from all over the world.

Smile and say hello, be a good civic ambassador, as they finally get out to exercise, walk around and have a break. Goodwill goes a long way toward understanding people.

• Pay Tynan is a 40-year resident of Juneau and spent 17 summers working as a vessel agent with the foreign-flagged vessels for their ship to shore needs. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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