SINCE OUR LAST ISSUE, I am delighted to say that I have taken two overseas trips to Europe, sailing on two cruise lines – Silversea Cruises and Windstar Cruises. You can read about my experiences in this issue. And, as we put the final touches on this publication, I sailed from Ft Lauderdale on three brand new ships – the Celebrity Apex, Holland America Line’s gorgeous new Rotterdam and the Odyssey of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. It almost feels like old times – almost…
But not quite yet. It is undoubtedly different out there these days, especially considering the time it takes to prepare for a trip, to ensure one has all the necessary documentation, to download the relevant apps and take the appropriate tests etc. I am becoming quite adept, but clearly, that’s not yet the case for everyone. Hopefully, as we anticipate 2022, travelling and cruising will become a little easier, and some of the stress will disappear.
I am so glad, however, that I’ve made the effort to travel as the payback has been immense, even immeasurable. And we returned safe and sound from each new adventure! On each of the five ships I sailed this year, I felt safe, secure and comfortable. Most of them required mask-wearing in public spaces, and all made vaccinations and antigen tests mandatory – a very good thing in my book.
It feels very normal to be cruising again, and it feels incredibly wonderful to spend time with other like-minded guests who are also venturing out after a long absence.
To board a ship again, to bring my weary, battered soul out of hiding and enforced hibernation, has felt utterly thrilling and incredibly fulfilling. Setting sail in the Greek Isles and then in the Med has soothed and reminded me of what an expansive, glorious world is out there. It’s shown me how many people are awaiting the return of what we all want – to be free again, to feed our curiosity, to engage with like-minded people and to enjoy a semblance of normalcy.
And that IS how it feels. My experience on both Silver Moon and Star Legend, described on pages 30 to 35 and 42 to 47, will, I trust, give you a sense of what it’s like to board a ship these days. Regardless of the necessary health and safety protocols, which we appreciated, it is still a lot of fun to cruise, interact with other guests and crew, enjoy fine dining and set sail to some of the loveliest ports of call in Europe.
Everyone has to take their time to get back out there, explore and lift one’s soul to the sun, and it is getting easier every month. If you are interested in a cruise, there was recent good news from ManuLife Insurance, a company that is now offering insurance for cruises. I always recommend using a travel advisor – ideally one in Canada, and that advice is now more important than ever. They can help you navigate the myriad new rules for travel and cruising and ensure you have a hassle-free experience. They would love and appreciate your business.
In November, my three back-to-back-to-back cruises on these fabulous, brand new ships allowed me to reflect on how fantastic it feels to be back at sea. I spent time with many other guests on each vessel, and all were having a terrific time sailing again. Other than some mask-wearing on the ship when moving about, which is no big deal, everyone loved the fine dining and incredible entertainment. They savoured the opportunity to sit beachside or to lounge by a pool and engage with the other guests. We all revelled in the wonderful service from crews who have also waited a long time to be at sea again. The mantra has often been “We Are Back” – and I echo that sentiment.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter 2021/22 issue.