Hush. Can you hear it? It's a faint voice. The voice of the last person willing to take a cruise somewhere, some day, some time. That person would be me.
Well, perhaps I'm not the last cruise fan given the industry, much to the bewilderment of its critics, has received advance bookings for voyages in 2021, according to reports.
It can be a difficult, if not foolhardy, task to navigate the choppy waters of the almost pathological public outrage directed at what was a largely uneventful pastime.
Being a cruise advocate these days is like declaring yourself a New York Times subscriber in the middle of a frenzied Trump rally (remember them?). Or being an illegal Southerner discovered cowering inside a Surfers Paradise motel room.
Everyone, the media included, has an opinion on cruising and the people who have enjoyed a cruise. And the opinions are mostly jaundiced and at times utterly condescending. Enough column centimetres, penned by those who have never taken a cruise, have been devoted to the Ruby Princess to cover its entire poop decks many times over.
OK, so as a travel editor and writer you'd expect me to be a cruise advocate, despite everything that has occurred over the last few months. Believe me, as much as I've enjoyed the cruises I've been fortunate enough to have experienced, I will survive if I never get to take another.
That said, with all the health and hygiene measures the cruise industry is set to announce, I would cruise again. Cruising has transported me in considerable comfort, style and safety to myriad amazing places, from one pole to the other and many nations in between.
All of those at times hysterical, and by now clichéd, headlines about "death ships" and "floating Petri dishes" focus more on the cruise industry's failures than those of the government agencies that were charged to oversee them. They also overlook the fact that cruising, notwithstanding the recent tragedies, has provided immense pleasure for hundreds of thousands of people.
Don't get me wrong. An imperfect cruise industry has been foolish, if not culpable, in the way it has conducted itself. Some of its villains have already been exposed, with more potentially to be revealed as we await the findings of the NSW Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, to be delivered in August.
But COVID-19 culpability has also been characterised in everyone from meat-packers to aged-care home operators who, even in light of the Ruby Princess scandal, allowed coronavirus-infected staff to continue working among its elderly residents.
Further afield, consider the operators of the Austrian ski resort where an estimated 5000 Europeans are believed to have been infected with COVID-19, transmitting the virus throughout the continent with unknown consequences.
Let's not forget the airline industry. Its much-vaunted HEPA air filters - said to capture more than 99 per cent of airborne microbes - will be tested when millions of travellers begin to take to the skies again, crowding into economy class cabins (masks optional). In Australia, passengers will only have to physically distance before they board their aircraft; not once on board. "Go figure", as they say in Trumpland.
It saddens me that those Australians who have enjoyed cruising over the years, as well as having forged friendships with members of the modestly-remunerated and hard-working ship's crews, have been so noticeably silent, failing to support the industry they once loved and likely still do. Pause and remember, too, that the extended families of some of those friends in places like the Philippines have been left destitute from the cruise industry's crisis.
It's true that a disgraced cruise industry has an enormous task ahead, to not only convince the public to again embrace its product, but also convince populist governments to give it a second chance. Cruising was a safe pastime before the coronavirus and it can become so again. Would I give it a second chance? You bet.
Anthony Dennis is the travel editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age