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A Christmas Cruise in Covid Times Pt 2

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    A Christmas Cruise in Covid Times Pt 2


    Explorer 2 has a passenger capacity of over 1800, but on this cruise there are only 560 onboard.

    It is strange to walk out of your cabin, look up the full length of the corridor and not see a soul. When you press the lift call button, a lift appears within seconds, and even at peak times there is rarely anyone else in the lift. You might think this lack of passengers would lead to a dull atmosphere, but we all wished all cruises were like this.

    P1050960 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050921 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050958 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    In the MDR there are no queues, just walk straight in. Tables were well spaced and every second table had a card stating ‘Not in Use’.

    In the buffet there was no need to ‘Hunt the Table’ before you went for food. There were more tables than passengers!

    The social distancing and mask wearing has been exemplary and even if you left the table for another food course, no mask, no food, and plenty of senior staff standing around to remind you.

    With all that is going on, we all feel very safe onboard.

    Day 4 Boxing Day Palma
    We awoke to glorious sunshine, T shirt and shorts weather, plus a splash of Australian Gold. I don’t want to bore you with my medical problems, but exactly one year ago I had sciatica in my right leg for three months, during which I had medication, acupuncture, ultra sound, physio, X ray, and MRI scan. Two weeks after the scan the pain completely disappeared, that was until two weeks before this cruise where it came back with a vengeance, this time to my left leg.

    This all means I won’t be reviewing Palma as I remain ship bound. Not a problem as I have visited Palma many times before. A good day for some rays and zzz’s on deck.

    P1050927 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    Around the pool area the food outlets were Grab & Go type, one serving hot the other serving cold food, both pre boxed which I surprised myself by actually preferred to eating in the buffet. A Reggae band provided the lunch time jollities, not normally my kind of music, but these guys were good, really good and I could easily be converted.


    A little evening entertainment below our balcony whilst readying for dinner. An ambulance appeared, followed by four more, delaying departure by at least three hours. Whether it was passengers or crew in those five ambulances, we never found out.

    We used the MDR for our evening meal, which if I’m honest was not the best, but hey ho we’re not gonna starve on a cruise ship are we.

    The theatre show was certainly different. It was called Revive. The cast were dressed in Victorian Theatrical Costume, but were singing modern songs from the 80’s & 90’s. A strange mix of themes, but somehow it worked, mainly due to the musicianship and vocal performances.

    Day 5 Barcelona.
    Another day onboard for me as I desperately wanted to sample some of Barcelona’s tappas, albeit eating out in an unknown environment in this Covid world is probably not the best idea.

    P1050926 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    The weather is once again glorious, far better than we expected, so I was told to stop whining about my bad leg.

    We booked one of the Speciality restaurants tonight, Kora La, an Asian Fusion which we have enjoyed immensely on previous Marella’s, but unfortunately this was not the case on this cruise. Three of us were not impressed and one us went away disappointed.

    P1050924 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    Showtime was a comedian, Scotty Miller, a warm up man for the likes of Question of Sport, BGT, Keith Lemon’s Celebrity Juice.
    A good comedian always goes well on a cruise ship and will be appearing again tomorrow night for his ‘naughtier’ show.

    Day 6 Valencia

    This is a port I have not visited before, so I was desperate to go ashore. I over dosed on Co Codamol to give it my best shot and we decided on Old Town rather than the new.

    It is a fair distance to Old Town and worth noting the ship was offering a coach with a four hour stay at £15pp return.

    P1050963 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050965 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050966 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    We took a taxi both ways and with an over generous tip cost €30 total, (€15 each way) between four of us.

    The weather once again exceeded our expectations but Old Town was under some kind of major reconstruction works with roads and pavements barriered off. This is definitely a place I wish to return to when the work is finished.

    Today is the day for our pre departure Anti Gen test. We were all given a time for one of the lounges which was rigged out with privacy tents, all completed swiftly and efficiently at no additional cost.

    We then had to complete our Passenger Locator Form which was provided on our Tui App with internet access for a return confirmation at no additional charge.

    Marella have handled this whole covid problem impeccably. There were temperature monitors placed around Deck 6 about the size of a mobile phone on a stand.
    You scanned your cruise card to identify yourself and moved your face towards the screen as instructed by the bot until your temperature appeared onscreen with a thank you message.
    This had to be completed every day before 1600hrs or your cruise card would be blocked.

    We had a good meal in Vista, the Italian side of the MDR with the wine flowing like the Danube. Two shows in the theatre tonight, the first, Rockology, just about every rock anthem ever written, from Led Zep to Guns and Roses. There were some outstanding performances by the guitar players with all the howl and feedback you would expect at a stadium venue.

    After an hour of Rock Gods, we stayed for the second performance of Scotty Miller, comedian. All in all, a good night’s cruise entertainment.

    Day 7 Cartagena.

    Another ‘new’ port for me, but sadly I just could not walk at all today. From what I could see from the ship, the place looked lovely, but at least it somewhere in the future to look forward to.

    Nothing for it but to splash on the Australian Gold and make friends with San Miguel for the rest of the day.

    We had our final meal in the MDR and as it happens it turned out to be one of the best meals of the cruise. An early night for packing and an early morning breakfast was an easy option.



    So what are my thoughts about the whole week?

    It was great to be back on a cruise ship, and with it being over the Christmas period made it even more special, but, and it’s a big but from me, there was the good and the not so good, mainly the hassle of the pre cruise testing and paperwork. Travel Insurance alone was a headache, making sure that Covid for cruising was not only covered, but visible in the paperwork for myself and wife’s separate policies. That alone was a first for me as I have never taken an insurance document with me to any cruise terminal or airport in 63 years of cruising. If this is the new future of fly cruising, then it’s not for me.
    9/11 changed the way we fly forever as we are all treated as suspect terrorists. Now that Covid is upon us, we are all potential spreaders.

    All our ports were Spanish, barring Gibraltar. After all the stress and anxiety of pre cruise paperwork, at none of the ports were tests or paperwork checks required. Just the hand held temperature gun aimed at your forehead prior to entering the gangplank.

    Could this be my Swan Song as far as cruising is concerned?

    Time will tell, but if I ever do fly cruise again then things will have to get a whole lot better.

    As for cruising ex UK, it holds no thrills for me, other than the odd 4 or 5 day jolly, and is something I no longer consider for a ‘main event’ holiday. If it’s a 14 night cruise to get to sunnier climes, I see it as a week wasted transiting back and forth to the Med. I much prefer flying to the sun, spending a few days doing something ‘Foreign’, in weather that is generally something a lot better than the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel.

    Despite all the hurdles I must commend Tui/Marella on their organised and disciplined management of the current situation, both at the airports, cruise terminal and cruise ship itself. We all felt safe throughout the whole week.
    The whole package of flights, transfers, drinks, grats was at a Christmas price never seen before, so the odd duff meal can be forgiven in my book as value for money was undeniable.

    If I do fly cruise again, Marella will probably be the first website I log on to…………….Wilba






    Wilba

    #2
    Hi Wilba
    Enjoyed your write-up,,and as someone with a gammy leg albeit a vascular problem I feel your pain.

    Missing at least two of my favourite ports,,,Barcelona and Palma would have been a great disappoint to me as well.
    My visit to Cartagena in October we went ashore only to take my wife to the bentist to have a tooth extracted,,so no great memory just a coffee & brandy for me whilst I waited for her.,,,,I don’t find much in Cartagena as in Malaga.

    Glad to see Marella keeping up Thomson standard,,but as I found with P& O some things aren’t/can’t be the same in a health pandemic.

    I was always a port cruiser,but find as I get older I am more than happy to stay on the ship,,so Southampton is now my go to for cruises,,mainly on Celebrity more comfortable modern ships.

    My wife wouldn’t mind if she never flew again,,,,but I may talk her into another Marella cruise ex Palma or Malaga.

    Thanks for your insight into a Marella cruise at Xmas,,,I’ve bone plenty of Marella cruises for NYE,,,did the pull out the stops for Xmas Day lunch etc?

    JC

    C P Scott,,,,,"Comment is Free,,but Facts are Sacred"
    "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Comment


      #3
      Sorry to hear that your leg is bad again but at least you had some sun while staying aboard.

      A very Happy New Year to you and your lovely wife, and I hope we do get to meet up again one day ...........................................Carol

      Comment


        #4
        Hi JC,

        I was not aware of anything special for Christmas Lunch, just like other Christmas cruises I have been on, the emphasis being on Formal Dinner in the evening.

        I had my C. lunch, fish goujons and chips, in a cardboard box on a poolside sun lounger necking a San Miguel..............Wilba
        Wilba

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by carol, welwyn garden city View Post
          Sorry to hear that your leg is bad again but at least you had some sun while staying aboard.

          A very Happy New Year to you and your lovely wife, and I hope we do get to meet up again one day ...........................................Carol
          ...........And me Carol.

          I really hope we do.................Wilba
          Wilba

          Comment


            #6
            An interesting account of your return to cruising, I am not too surprised by your overall opinion of the current set-up with regards to covid protocols and life onboard. We really enjoyed the extra space onboard during our 3 staycation cruises last year, two out of the three cruise lines we sailed with left us feeling totally safe but the other, a newcomer to the world of cruising left us with some reservations.
            If everything goes to plan we will be cruising ourselves in a couple of weeks time and like you, we are finding the form filling and paperwork a little tedious but I do feel this will be the norm for a while to come so best get used to it.
            We have currently paid for 3 tests each at a total cost of £360, it could be cheaper but for our outgoing PCR, we have opted for a rapid result just to be sure we can pack with confidence. 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼
            www.wansbroughs-cruise-blog.me.uk

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks for the comprehensive review. I hope your leg problems will improve very soon.

              Sheila

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks for your review Wilba. So glad you enjoyed your cruise despite your sciatica. (I have lower back pain, pain in both hips and knees so I feel your pain)

                We, well in reality it was just me looking at the New Year cruise due to the price and wanting to cruise again. However hubby isn’t to keen to fly at present especially with the new variant. 🙄
                don't want to work, just want to cruise.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Excellent review, thanks for posting Wilba. Desperate to cruise but it’s just not on at the moment. I’ll see how things go over the next 2/3 months.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Great review, thanks for posting. Hope your sciatica improves soon.

                    Barb

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Wilba View Post
                      Explorer 2 has a passenger capacity of over 1800, but on this cruise there are only 560 onboard.


                      Around the pool area the food outlets were Grab & Go type, one serving hot the other serving cold food, both pre boxed which I surprised myself by actually preferred to eating in the buffet.

                      A Reggae band provided the lunch time jollities, not normally my kind of music, but these guys were good, really good and I could easily be converted.

                      If I do fly cruise again, Marella will probably be the first website I log on to…………….Wilba


                      Didn’t expect to see that!

                      Great review Wilba, thanks for sharing your photos and cruise experience.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for the review Wilba. It looks and sounds much better than I had expected. Perhaps Marella is worth a future look. We sailed on this ship when she belonged to Celebrity, and enjoyed her very much. I do wonder how long cruise lines can continue, though, with such small numbers on board.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks for the great review , oh how we have missed all these for the past goodness knows how long .
                          Lets all hope 2022 is better ,

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thanks for Part 2 - enjoyed it all. Shame you missed Cartagena - very interesting place - but hope your leg is better soon.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jc, liverpool View Post
                              Hi Wilba
                              Enjoyed your write-up,,and as someone with a gammy leg albeit a vascular problem I feel your pain.

                              Missing at least two of my favourite ports,,,Barcelona and Palma would have been a great disappoint to me as well.
                              My visit to Cartagena in October we went ashore only to take my wife to the bentist to have a tooth extracted,,so no great memory just a coffee & brandy for me whilst I waited for her.,,,,I don’t find much in Cartagena as in Malaga.

                              Glad to see Marella keeping up Thomson standard,,but as I found with P& O some things aren’t/can’t be the same in a health pandemic.

                              I was always a port cruiser,but find as I get older I am more than happy to stay on the ship,,so Southampton is now my go to for cruises,,mainly on Celebrity more comfortable modern ships.

                              My wife wouldn’t mind if she never flew again,,,,but I may talk her into another Marella cruise ex Palma or Malaga.

                              Thanks for your insight into a Marella cruise at Xmas,,,I’ve bone plenty of Marella cruises for NYE,,,did the pull out the stops for Xmas Day lunch etc?

                              JC
                              Sorry to read about your leg JC. Just remember it is safer with covid on a cruise ship than in a hospital so better get cruising a.s.a.p.

                              Comment


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