Return to cruise on Crystal Serenity – Milford-Orange Times
By Karen Quinn Panzer
On July 3, my husband and I took our first cruise in 18 months on Crystal Serenity, a luxury cruise ship, sailing from Nassau, Bahamas, Great Exuma, San Salvador and Long Island. Some of these islands had never seen a visiting cruise ship before.
We followed the new COVID-19 protocols which made us feel safe but never hindered our enjoyment of the experience. This navigation was for fully vaccinated guests only and we had to undergo a rapid (free) antigen test just to make sure we were negative for COVID before boarding the ship. Upon arrival we had a full Junkanoo greeting: a local Bahamian street parade with music, dancing and costumes.
Here are some tips based on our experience.
Be flexible. Originally, we were supposed to make our first stop on Bimini, but since there have been recent spikes in COVID on this island, the stop has been canceled. Safety always comes first. Instead, we spent a day at sea and Crystal compensated us with a bonus onboard credit to spend. With $ 180 spending money and two dozen things to do on board, we had a great time exploring the ship and relaxing. I enjoyed golf lessons with a pro, tasting it at Palm Court with musicians and watching a movie in the cinema for the first time in 16 months. Our friend even won $ 650 at the slot machines.
Be adventurous. As we return to all of these beautiful destinations, people are working hard to provide the services offered before COVID. For example, on our Bahamas cruise, they are fine-tuning transit options and reopening things like beach clubs. On some islands, we were the first cruise ship to be there, and we bid because there was no established dock for a cruise ship.
Being adventurous had its rewards. We went to three of the purest turquoise water beaches we have ever seen in Exuma, San Salvador and Long Island.
Be patient. As we return to cruising and international travel, we have to be patient with the new protocols and forms that we have to present on arrival. Vaccinated travel is a reality in many countries. Each country has its own form to fill out (your agent can advise you).
For the Bahamas, download your Centers for Disease Control vaccination card and answer questions about your proximity to COVID-19 on the Bahamas Travel Health Visa site. Show your “visa” before boarding the plane to the Bahamas. A $ 40 fee also gives you travel protection if you need to stay longer. You can also purchase your COVID-19 rapid antigen test from this site for your return to the United States, performed on board, with negative results downloaded to your phone. Easy.
Reward: The beauty and serenity of the Bahamas.
Karen Quinn-Panzer is the owner and vacation specialist at Dream Vacations Quinn Panzer Travel in Milford.