On 1 March, photographer Jon Tonks left New Zealand on a Pacific cruise. Twenty eight days later, the boat docked in San Diego, amid a pandemic. What happened in between?
The cruise ship MS Maasdam left New Zealand on the evening of 1 March, steaming out of Auckland’s Waitemata harbour into the Hauraki Gulf, where it headed north. The route was to San Diego via Fiji, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Hawaii. On board the Holland America Line ship were around 1,200 passengers, including Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians and French holidaymakers. The 542 crew included Dutch, Americans, Germans, Venezuelans and Filipinos. There were also a handful of entertainers and guest lecturers along for the ride, including Jon Tonks, a portrait photographer from Bath, who ended up with a portrait of a cruise that didn’t go to plan.
Covid-19 was certainly a thing at the beginning of March, but it was still considered mainly a China thing. The Maasdam wouldn’t be going anywhere near China. Questionnaires were handed to passengers, about symptoms and where they’d been before, but then they were good to go. Still, Tonks says that friends had joked before he left: “Good luck on your corona cruise.”