By Sharon Whitley Larsen
As a number of longtime associates with persevering with COVID-19 issues have been canceling latest cruises, my husband Carl and I (who haven’t but had COVID-19 — knock on wooden! — and are totally boosted) simply accomplished our fourth cruise inside a yr.
Our associates had second ideas after listening to horror tales from others. One, following a back-to-back Mediterranean cruise, got here down with COVID-19 in Might and needed to quarantine at a London resort for 12 days. Nonetheless testing optimistic — and with COVID-19 assessments at the moment essential to enter the US by way of air journey — her husband canceled their return flight to San Diego and rebooked by way of Mexico Metropolis and Tijuana — the place they walked throughout the U.S. border and caught a journey dwelling. One other pal was quarantined in a tiny porthole cabin for 10 days in Might on a cruise from Miami to Montreal after testing optimistic.
However that did not discourage us. In October 2021 we took our first cruise since 2019, from our San Diego hometown to San Francisco, Catalina and Ensenada, Mexico, on the Superstar Millennium for eight nights with solely 950 passengers (capability 2,400). This previous April we booked a 12-night Hurtigruten Expedition inaugural British Isles cruise from Dover, England, with solely 222 passengers (capability 500), together with solely 17 People. Passengers needed to put on masks aside from outside or within the eating room, the place our temperature was taken every night previous to seating. In August we did a repeat of our 2018 all-time favourite — 14 nights on Viking Ocean Cruises from Bergen, Norway, to Montreal (about 900 passengers), with port stops within the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and jap Canada. On every ship all crew wore masks.
This previous October we accomplished our first Holland America cruise, 14 nights from charming Quebec Metropolis to Fort Lauderdale aboard the Nieuw Statendam. Usually the capability is round 2,600; there have been 2,385 passengers (just a few carrying masks) — most from the US and Canada however others represented from world wide. It was usually an aged crowd (I noticed no youngsters) with dozens in wheelchairs or on scooters or with canes. Regardless of mobility points, nothing was going to cease them. Not even a concern of COVID-19.
The masked crew of 970 was represented by 42 nationalities, our Irish captain informed us throughout a packed theater Q&A session: “We had solely 99 crew throughout COVID on the ship as an alternative of the same old 1,000,” he defined. “It was a really lonely time.”
Our stateroom attendants and waitstaff had been thrilled to be again at work. Throughout this previous yr we’ve got tipped them further and informed them how a lot we appreciated their laborious work.
We’ve got been on 30 cruises (the longest 29 nights). Throughout our earlier cruising days, we might e book most shore excursions and attempt to cram in as a lot as we may. This newest cruise was totally different: We opted simply to play issues by ear every day.
“I simply wish to loosen up,” I informed Carl as we boarded the ship and headed to our balcony cabin. Usually throughout a cruise, I might need one therapeutic massage and facial. This time I splurged and had three therapeutic massage classes — from 75 to 120 minutes every — which had been heavenly.
The cruise itinerary — most of which we had visited in September 2013 — appealed to us: Quebec Metropolis and Saguenay, Quebec; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Sydney and RisePEI, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Portland, Maine; Boston, Port Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale. Solely this time in jap Canada and the northeastern United States we had timed it proper to see the vivid fall colours. We liked nothing greater than sitting on our balcony (with jackets and blankets to chase away the coolness) and gazing on the breathtaking surroundings as we sailed.
Sooner or later at a poolside lunch we met a pair from Toronto on their first post-COVID-19 cruise, doing a back-to-back that continued to the Caribbean for one more two weeks. A girl from Sacramento on the RisePEI hop-on, hop-off bus informed me that this was her first cruise in 30 years.
As our tour information in RisePEI commented about these terrifying COVID-19 days: “We did not have cruise ships in port for 1,038 days. I counted.”
One factor that Carl and I liked was attending the Lincoln Heart Stage every night, having fun with the classical music by a younger string quartet. Following dinner, we might take heed to the wonderful B.B. King’s Blues Membership band or the proficient piano duo.
It is all the time a bit miserable leaving a cruise on the final morning. As we boarded the shuttle from the pier to the Fort Lauderdale airport, the bubbling driver known as out to us on the mic: “I wish to be the primary to welcome you again to the true world!” (Sigh!)
We won’t anticipate our subsequent cruise — in April.
WHEN YOU GO
The Holland America Nieuw Statendam is docked in charming and pleasant Saguenay, Quebec. Picture courtesy of Sharon Whitley Larsen.
One of many best pleasures of taking a cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam is watching a beautiful sundown. Picture courtesy of Sharon Whitley Larsen.
The creator and her husband pose with a few of the crew of Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam. Picture courtesy of Sharon Whitley Larsen.
Sharon Whitley Larsen is a contract author. To learn options by different Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, go to the Creators Syndicate web site at www.creators.com.