The world as we once knew it has changed in many ways particularly as we get back to travel it can be hard to know what to expect. We spoke to our friend and professional cruise blogger, Laura Pedlar, to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to go on a cruise post-COVID to find out if cruise holidays are back on the cards. Find out everything you need to know about what to expect if you book a cruise post-pandemic…
Interview with Laura Pedlar, cruise blogger of Cruise Lifestyle
Laura, after this long weird period of restricted travel, how was your first post-COVID cruise experience?
“I must admit, before my cruise on Sky Princess, I was unsure if it would be the same as my other cruise experiences. I knew that there would be restrictions in place and hoped it wouldn’t make things less enjoyable. I needn’t have worried because I was pleasantly surprised to find that the restrictions were minimal and didn’t impact on our enjoyment of the cruise. We had such a warm welcome from the crew, who seemed genuinely happy to be back on board. This was our first ‘cruise to nowhere’ experience but as we had enjoyed plenty of back-to-back sea days in the past, it didn’t phase us. We actually felt it was the safest way to cruise and still feel like a proper holiday.”
What was the cruise line? How many days did you go on holiday?
“We cruised on Sky Princess (Princess Cruises) on its first cruise since the pause in cruise operations. We took a four-night cruise.”
How was the pre-boarding experience? What arrangements did you have to do in order to board the cruise (testing, paperwork, etc.)?
“Princess Cruises requires passengers to have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days before embarkation. In advance of the cruise, we completed our passenger details and health questionnaire on the MedallionClass app. Once we arrived at the cruise terminal, we visited the testing centre for a Lateral Flow Test. Our results came back within 30 minutes and we received the all-clear to check-in and start our holiday.”
Tell us about the itinerary?
“There were no ports on our itinerary and so the Captain promised to sail towards the sunshine. We cruised from Southampton to the French coast and had some wonderfully sunny sea days.”
What COVID measures were in place? Did they give you peace of mind?
“Face coverings were worn whilst moving around most public areas but were not required outside or whilst seated in restaurants, bars and lounges. There wasn’t a limited capacity within the Theatre but passengers were asked to wear face coverings during the performances where possible. We ate breakfast in the buffet once during our cruise and we were served by the crew instead of helping ourselves. I didn’t mind this and it was reassuring to know that the serving utensils hadn’t been handled by lots of other people. The lifts were restricted to one group of four people and this was perfectly fine because the cruise wasn’t at full capacity. We never had a long wait for a lift and passengers respected this at all times during our cruise. It was good to see the level of cleaning that was taking place throughout the day and it was certainly reassuring to know that seats and tables in bars were cleaned between different people using them. Princess Cruises made us feel at ease and we soon relaxed into the holiday. I never felt unsafe whilst I was on board.”
Overall, how was a post-COVID cruise different to your normal experience?
“Apart from the wearing of masks whilst moving around inside the ship, it felt very much the same as other cruises we’ve enjoyed in the past. The biggest change was actually using the OceanMedallion and MedallionClass app for the first time. Princess Cruises has introduced this technology to all of its ships during the pause in cruising and this was our first experience of it. We used the OceanMedallion and app to open our cabin door, order drinks and food and find each other on board. It’s a clever piece of technology that didn’t take away from the interaction from the friendly crew.”
What did you enjoy the most of your holiday?
“I enjoyed many different aspects of the cruise on Sky Princess but the food has to be one of my favourite things that Princess do very well. We ate at the three speciality dining restaurants on board: Crown Grill, Bistro Sur La Mer and my new favourite, Sabatini’s Trattoria. Alfredo’s Pizzeria serves freshly made stone-baked pizzas that are delicious and we enjoyed lunch there. We visited the Enclave in the spa for the first time and I will certainly do this again on a future cruise. It was so relaxing. Overall, it was just so good to be back on a cruise, to enjoy the ocean views and be pampered for a few days.”
What advice and recommendations would you give to someone thinking about booking a cruise holiday?
“I would recommend doing plenty of research about the different cruise lines and what they offer. They all offer different onboard experiences. It’s good to know what is included in the cruise fare so you can budget for additional things such as speciality restaurants, drinks and excursions. If you can, I’d always recommend choosing what you’d like to do in the cruise ports before you go. The more you organise in advance, the more time you have to relax and enjoy your cruise when you get on the ship.”
Lastly, Do you have any more cruise adventures planned this year?
“Whilst we were on Sky Princess we put down a Future Cruise Deposit. This allows us to book another Princess cruise within the next two years and pay nothing else until the final payment is due. We have our eye on another new Princess ship, Enchanted Princess, sailing from New York to the Caribbean in 2022.”
If you want to find out more about the world of cruising head over to Laura’s blog https://cruiselifestyle.co.uk
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