Countdown to a Test Cruise
I feel a bit like a pro as far as flying during COVID since I did it about a month ago. Gone are the days of packing, grabbing a passport and credit card and hopping on a plane. My earlier trip to Greece took quite a bit of effort just to prepare for the flight and entry into the country. To say the least, it was stressful and time-consuming. I learned just how much I had taken for granted prior to COVID travel.
Testing Norwegian Gem
I had been invited to try an earlier NCL test cruise, but that was cancelled, so when I got invited to try another test cruise on NCL Gem departing from Miami, I hesitated. The current status of COVID in Florida – the ship will sail from Miami- gives me pause. But, there are several reasons that I can rationalize my trip due to my personal assessment of risk:
- I have been vaccinated and I know that NCL requires 100% of guests and crew to be vaccinated.
- The panel of experts and cruise execs on Norwegian Bliss currently sailing Alaska boosted my confidence levels. The amount of thought that went into the planning of a safe cruise impressed me and offered a bit of insurance that my safety on NCL comes first.
- I know that I and all other passengers will be tested prior to boarding and that proof of vaccination is required. I do not like self-reporting of vaccination only because I am skeptical of authenticity of the cards and fear that it will be these unscrupulous people (they probably got their vaccine card from the same place that they got their service animal vest) who could literally sink the entire cruise industry. With a test administered right at the terminal, the likelihood of a falsified COVID test is quite slim.
- Hearing that NCL won its case in court to require all guests be vaccinated brought a smile to my face. The cruise industry and those employed by the industry have suffered enough. Common sense prevails!
- Knowing how the numbers are increasing in Florida, I will carry foldable N95 masks that I will cover with another more fashionable, but less protective mask. Who knows what lurks in an airplane, or more significantly passengers in the plane? From that previous flight experience, I witnessed many improperly worn masks even though the flight attendants warned that passengers wearing their masks improperly could be denied future flights on the airline. Without enforcement, threats remain meaningless. And having watched too many videos of obnoxious and violent pax, it’s understandable why a flight attendant may turn a blind eye to a non-compliant passenger.
- I know that all passengers will be tested before boarding the ship.
I already had the NCL app installed, but instead went to the desktop version due to my disdain for using apps that require more typing than my inept fingers are comfortable with. I much prefer the comfort of my keyboard, so did the check-in there. I had received several notices from NCL to fill in my forms – most of them sent to my spam folder, even though I have had a MYNCL account for ages. Following instructions, I added a photo along with the type and dates of my COVID injections. It was necessary to fill in the form between 3-21 prior to the sailing dates, otherwise certain Safety and Health fields did not populate.
One of the tasks required on this form was to watch a safety drill video. Gone are the days of gathering at your muster station on the ship just before sailaway. I simply clicked on a video and watched the familiar instructions. It certainly saves time, but being done privately, I don’t get to scope out the people I consider less-than-ideal life boat companions. It was extremely nice to do this without haven’t to wait for those who don’t understand the concept of promptness and arrive significantly late to the onboard drill, drink in hand. With this new procedure, I will simply report to my muster station once on the ship. It saves a lot of time and stress. Oddly enough, I got an email requesting that I review the safety video again. I think I must have watched it five times; not because I am a slow learner, but because I could never get the last required checkmark to complete my registration. That eventually showed up much later.
As has always been the case, I selected a time to arrive at the terminal. In the past, it wasn’t critical to arrive at the exact time that I had selected, but the instructions state that I cannot arrive at a different time than that which I had selected. I am assuming that it means I can’t arrive earlier than the chosen time. Surely, there are exceptions for delayed arrival at the pier.
It will be interesting to see how everything goes at the pier. Next stop: Miami.