Home Ice bergs Lost in the Stacks: Cabin Fever

Lost in the Stacks: Cabin Fever


The 1,234 passengers on the Holland America cruise ship Zandaam were about to embark on a dream vacation: a month-long trip around the tip of South America. They would see penguins and icebergs, killer whales and dolphins, and for a fee, guests could even visit Machu Picchu. As they crossed from the Falkland Islands to the Strait of Magellan up the coasts of Chile and Peru, guests from Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom and South America not only enjoyed excursions to land, but also reveled in the by Zandaam famous amenities. The date? March 8, 2020.

In cabin fever authors Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin ominously detail the transformation of the Zandaam from luxury cruise ship to pariah. As COVID fears gripped the world, port after port closed to cruise ships, leaving the Zandaam dangerously low on supplies. Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers and crew fell ill with the mysterious virus as ill-equipped medical staff struggled to keep up with the explosion of cases. Soon, the captain ordered all passengers to remain confined to their tiny rooms, forcing the decimated crew to work 14 hours a day to serve passengers 3 meals a day.

Despite the heaviness Titanic references, cabin fever is the gripping tale of a cruise ship caught in an international crisis. The details of the frantic diplomacy between Carnival Cruise Lines, diplomats and ambassadors to find a port, any port, where the Zandaam could land are fascinating. Equally interesting is the inner workings of cruise ships, from laundresses to sanitary staff to entertainers. Smith and Franklin also vividly capture the personal stories of crew members and passengers trapped on a nightmarish voyage.

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Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book picker, shameless promoter of good reads – these are just a few of the things I do as a collection development professional. I love sharing the hidden gems of our non-fiction collection!