For those who love to be on the seas, the past two years have been tough. In early 2020, as the coronavirus spread across the globe, cruise ships became petri dishes for the disease. By mid-March that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order that effectively shut down the industry — and it stayed shuttered for more than a year. For people who make cruising a lifestyle, not just a pastime, being marooned on land was devastating. Charles Falls Jr., known as Chillie, is one of those cruisers who set sail as much as possible. He has been on 55 cruises and in recent years started hosting a YouTube show about the industry.
In January, after nearly two years without setting foot on a ship, Mr. Falls was preparing for his return to sea when Cristal Duhaime, a New York Times Opinion Audio producer, visited him. Click the audio player below to listen to the story.
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Times Opinion Audio is produced by Cristal Duhaime and edited by Stephanie Joyce. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. Mixing by Isaac Jones. Original music by Carole Sabouraud and Isaac Jones. Production assistance from Derek Arthur. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta with editorial support from Kristina Samulewski. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Photos by Mary Beth Koethe. Special thanks to Larissa Anderson, Kaari Pitkin, Patrick Healy, Leslie Dela Vega and head of Times Audio Paula Szuchman.