Cruise ships have been absent from Australian shores since early 2020, but the cruise industry is back up and running in other parts of the world. Keen to hear about the changes that have been implemented since the pandemic, we asked intrepid traveller Cory from Curb Free With Cory Lee to tell us about his experiences. He had plenty to share about the adaptations the cruise industry has made.
Can you tell us about your most recent cruise?
I went on a 5-night cruise with Virgin Voyages on their brand new Scarlet Lady cruise ship. We cruised to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and then to Virgin Voyages’ private beach club, the Beach Club at Bimini, in the Bahamas. To say it was incredible would be an understatement.
I had so much fun, and when I wasn’t exploring the ship, I was immensely enjoying my spacious and wheelchair accessible sea terrace cabin. It had all of the accessibility amenities I needed, such as a roll-in shower, accessible balcony, and the lighting in the room could even be controlled with a provided iPad.
We’d love to hear about some of the changes you noticed onboard, compared to pre-pandemic cruising.
There were certainly a lot of changes compared to pre-pandemic cruising, but I don’t think that it affected the quality of the cruising experience in any way. I was actually surprised!
All crew members wore face masks throughout the cruise and masks were encouraged, but not required, for guests. During all shows, though, masks were required fro everyone, due to being unable to socially distance in the theatre.
There was no smoking in the onboard casino as well, which was nice.
Has there been any change to food service? People love a good cruise buffet, so we are curious to know if it’s alive and well.
There was no buffet on my cruise. Instead, we were seated and given a menu. A crew member would take our order and then bring us the food from whichever eatery we wanted.
There were multiple eateries to choose from, and food ranged from sushi to burgers to tacos, and everything in-between. The food was actually really delicious, and I enjoyed not having to wander around a buffet and get my own food. It was quite nice to be waited on, even in the quick-service dining establishments onboard.
Are there any new restrictions around the number of people in specific areas of the ships?
Our cruise was at about 65 per cent capacity, if I remember correctly, so it never felt overcrowded. Once onboard, we were free to meander around the ship however we liked.
Are masks, COVID tests, or vaccination passports required to board?
Everyone on the cruise had to be fully vaccinated (double dose). We also had to do a COVID test in the terminal, and have a negative test result right before we boarded the ship. Virgin Voyages provided the COVID tests and it was an easy, quick process.
Did you feel safe about taking a cruise, and if so, what protocols on board made you feel safe?
I felt at ease throughout the cruise, knowing that everyone onboard was fully vaccinated and tested negative. I tried to be as safe as possible, so that I could test negative and be allowed to take the cruise.
Are you aware of any additional precautions the cruise lines are implementing, and how they handle any COVID cases onboard?
We did have a medical facility on board, which put my mind further at ease.
Cory Lee shares more of his adventures on his website, Curb Free With Cory Lee.
This interview first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.