Welcome Back! Here's what we have experiened so far.....
The past 18 months have been some of the most interesting times in my life, as I am sure it has been for many of you. So many things that have happened, I thought never could happen, that I have honestly lost count. But here we are, we have pushed through the past 18 months in unique and unquestionably new ways. In this newsletter I prefer to not look any longer at the past but into the future.
As I write this newsletter there are now 200 cruise ships operating and carrying guests all over the world, plus many more preparing to start operating again soon. At this stage we have been on 3 cruises and are currently in Europe on our fourth. Having been on Celebrity’s Edge for the first cruise from US on June 26 cruising to Mexico and Nassau, Windstar’s Star Breeze cruising in the far southern Caribbean from Barbados, and Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam in Alaska, we have tried to see firsthand the changes and guest reactions.
The guest reaction has been the same on the three ships - keeping in mind the Edge was an unmasked cruise and the other two required one to wear masks. Beyond a doubt the passenger reaction has been overwhelmingly fantastic. A sample of typical comments: Just so happy to be cruising and traveling again; I don’t know who is more excited to be here me or the crew; the crew are better than I remember; I feel safer here than at my grocery store—my favorite restaurant---the hotel I was in last night. People are loving it and have no fear on the ship and are flexible if you have to skip a port, which is possible today.
Now some of the changes that you may or may not have heard about. First all the ships that we track are requiring you to be fully vaccinated for at least two weeks prior to embarkation, with very few exceptions. Secondly you need to get an Antigen or PCR test 48 hrs prior to embarkation. If traveling outside the country more than likely you will need these tests to get on the plane. While cruise ships have always been clean, you will notice ongoing cleaning more than ever especially any and all hand railings and any frequently touched areas. Social distancing is honestly not an issue right now as none of the cruise lines are going out anywhere near full capacity. New filtration systems for cleaner fresher air. No self-serve buffets (YEAH) or drink stations. A lot less paper like daily programs and endless ads for the shops and spas. Hardly any one time use items like plastic water bottles, individual servings of ketchup, mustard, sugars etc. etc.
Many people have asked me what’s it like having to wear the mask all the time. Well here’s the honest answer - you leave you stateroom to get coffee or a drink, you wear the mask to walk to the venue and order and then you can take off the mask to consume said beverage - end of story. Same with restaurants. You wear the mask to walk to an outdoor area, then take it off as soon as you’re outside. Bottom line it’s a big deal if you make it one, but honestly it is not something people are complaining about once onboard. It certainly doesn’t detract from the overall cruise experience.
Cruises are back and people are loving them just like they did in the past and I dare say are appreciating them even more. Sure you might have a last minute change on your itinerary, and customs and immigrations in foreign countries, and the paper work might be annoying, but right now you are experiencing one of the safest and most controlled vacation locations you can find. I also have to mention that the friendly trained crew are back all over the ship, and you still get nightly turndown service and morning service without requesting it. Room service is still there and your bartender really knows how to make a drink more than just a screw driver. Cruising is back and you should be too.
We are heading to Rome to join Atlas Ocean Voyages’ World Navigator, a 180 passenger ship advertised as a 5 star product. The press and PR are sounding great and the size is in great demand, especially now, for a charter vessel of this size. Stay tune on Facebook for daily reports and a full special email on this ship. Fingers crossed!
During the pause, what were these ships doing? Well the Edge and the Nieuw Amsterdam had a cleaning that was really intense so these ships honestly look new. Whereas the Breezes and was cut in half and had 50 cabins added and is pretty much new. For example crew could sleep in guest cabins but had to fix, repair, and clean every nook and cranny in the room. If it needed paint or stain it got it, everywhere and anywhere.
Holland America and Celebrity management looked at their product, services and guests comments as did others and have now included more in the product than ever, like open bar, wine and other offerings. So the product itself is now more inclusive than ever. Listed below are some other things going on in the industry all for the better and a brighter future.