BARBADOS — Even in these difficult times – and maybe especially in these difficult times – travel is still a source of serenity and inspiration.
That was certainly the case for Lesley Keyter.
Founder and owner of The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, Keyter is just back from a Caribbean cruise with Seabourn.
Seabourn announced in April 2021 that it planned to offer Southern Caribbean cruises onboard Seabourn Odyssey starting this summer, departing out of Barbados.
On Keyter’s Aug. 29, 2021 week-long sailing, ports of call included Saint Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A few people on board elected to do back-to-back cruises for a 14-day sailing to Dominica, St. Maarten and more.
Keyter says she had her apprehensions about sailing during COVID. But ultimately her Seabourn Odyssey cruise was “fabulous”, as she tells Travelweek in this first-hand account…
“When I got the chance to cruise out of Barbados with Seabourn I felt that this would be a great learning experience and I would be in a better position to answer questions as to how things work.
“Now bear in mind that the travel advisory / do not cruise is still in place in Canada. Many of our cruise specialists think that this is unfair based on the incredible advances and protocols in place on many of the cruise lines operating today.
“So let’s take a look at these protocols.
“First, you can only cruise on Seabourn out of Barbados if you are double vaccinated. So part of your preparation will be to fill in the health questionnaire for both Seabourn and also Barbados.
“As I was not spending any time in Barbados but going straight to the port I was deemed to be in transit and a sterile corridor was created between the airport and the cruise port. While at the airport my documents such as vaccination record, negative PCR test, cruise documents and passport as well as the Barbados BIMSafe record were checked numerous times.
“Finally we were on our way to the cruise port. Once there we were tested again by Seabourn – a rapid antigen test. This took 20 minutes for the result which came back negative – YAY – so we were allowed on board.
“I asked Seabourn what would happen if my test had been positive and was told that in that event they would take care of me by providing a quarantine hotel.
“Once on board we were not required to wear masks although the staff were wearing masks. There were multiple hand sanitizing stations and social distancing wasn’t really an issue as there were only just over 80 guests on board (usually over 400) so we had lots of space.
“What was impressive that although there were so few guests Seabourn kept its full complement of staff including the entertainment staff who put on amazing shows for us night after night. The ever popular champagne and caviar in the surf went ahead as well and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
“Two days before the cruise ended we had our PCR test for disembarkation and return to Canada. This was complimentary from Seabourn. They have thought of every little thing to cope with this new reality.
“One overwhelming personal realization is that it has been so good to escape from all the negativity of COVID, vaccination demonstrations, political rallies and election talk and just take in the tranquility of the wide open ocean which I have missed so much.
“It has also been strange to feel so safe on this ship – much safer than I feel at home in Calgary.
“It has been a fabulous experience and not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be.”