Deciding to travel today is not for the lighthearted and planning travel is a complicated process.
Having been in the travel industry for over 25 years, I felt confident that I could successfully navigate the travel protocols of today.
Instead, I found myself learning everything all over again, checking and rechecking to ensure that all the correct documentation was in place.
With our antigen test, passport, Nexus card, and the US attestation form in hand, we were Fort Lauderdale-bound! To have ample time for check-in and security, we arrived at Pearson airport by 5:30 a.m. to board Air Canada’s 8 a.m. flight. Thank goodness we factored in extra time as the security lineups were lengthy (with no priority lines offered).
At long last, we boarded the flight, and I was so happy to be back on an aircraft and walk down that aisle. Upon landing in Fort Lauderdale, the plane erupted with waves of clapping from passengers, who were excited to be travelling again.
We arrived one day before the cruise departure and checked into the Ritz Carlton, Fort Lauderdale Beach. The excitement and anticipation began building on what the next day would bring. From the hotel room balcony, I could see the cruise ships sailing, and what a sight it was!
Time to cruise
As we made our way to Port Everglades, out of the corner of my eye, I could see my home for the next week – the Celebrity Edge in all her glory! The anticipation of what lied ahead was overpowering. I had waited over 720 days to finally get on a ship again and was asking myself is this really happening? It was indeed!
When using the Celebrity App to check-in, a specific time is provided.
Pro Tip – stick to the time you are provided otherwise you may get a seat on the pavement in the hot sun waiting for your new allocated time to be called.
Once the relevant boarding time is announced, passengers then proceed to the wellness and documentation check, and if all the requirements are met, they are cleared to board.
What a moment it was to step onto the deck of the Celebrity Edge. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and it felt surreal. We were greeted by the warm and friendly crew members and set off to find our stateroom and familiarize ourselves with this incredible ship.
I spent the first few days acclimating to life at sea and am happy to report, it is not that much different than what we are accustomed to, and I dare say it’s a bit better!
We are currently sailing at approximately 50 per cent capacity plus the crew, and there are ten passengers onboard who are not vaccinated (not sure if they are kids).
Mask wearing is not a requirement for fully vaccinated guests, and this is the first sailing where it is not mandatory for the crew to wear face coverings. It felt familiar and comfortable onboard, and the enhanced protocols are working and not impeding the modern luxury experience that Celebrity is well known for.
My next article will talk about the onboard experience in more detail.
The first port of call was Nassau. With two ships in port (The Edge and Freedom of the Seas), the combined passenger count was approximately 2,000 and the familiar buzz was noticeably different and very quiet. However, shore excursions and “on your own” tours were operating as normal, and a great day was had by all!
Cruising is back
There are many reasons why people choose to travel, and now may not be the right time for everyone, but it was the right time for me. I travel to learn, enhance my knowledge, and explore new horizons. This week, I am having the most incredible moments and in awe of the stories being shared by passengers and the crew.
This trip has reinforced the fact that the pandemic has affected us all globally. Listening to stories from crew members who were home for months and waiting to get back on board, those grateful to have the opportunity to not just work, but to be fully vaccinated and able to continue to support their families back home.
Everyone has a story and each one of us has been affected by this pandemic, but it no longer needs to separate us. It now connects and allows us to share stories and learn from one another.
Cruising is back, better than ever, I am so happy to have the chance to experience it here on the Celebrity Edge!
- The Celebrity Edge is sailing at approximately 50 per cent capacity with over 700 crew members.
- Clients must download the Celebrity Cruise App which allows assistance:
- before boarding: use the app for contactless online check-in, document upload including security photo, complete the health acknowledgment, select the arrival appointment time and your electronic boarding pass.
- Once onboard: the Celebrity Cruise App can be used to access everything from activities, shore excursion information, dinner reservations, account statements, and can even be used as a room key.
- Safety Briefing (aka the muster drill) is now done using a DIY format on your device through the Celebrity App, and only a short check-in to your muster station is required and done in less than 5 minutes.
- Celebrity Cruises provides COVID assistance at no extra charge (sailings on or before October 31, 2021)
- 100 per cent cruise fare refund for you, and your Travelling Party, if tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to the cruise or at the boarding terminal.
- Pro-rated cruise fare refunds are available for anyone who has their cruise cut short due to testing positive for COVID-19 or being suspected of having COVID-19 during the cruise.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Celebrity Cruises will cover the costs of COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you and your travelling party.
Cruising today is very similar to cruising in the past and truly is a viable option for Canadian travellers!
Caroline Hay is President of Cruise CEO
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