Cruising in covid times Part one

Allison Taylor on 08 September 2021
Having supported and guided customers through the varying travel rules throughout the summer, it was FINALLY my turn to travel Internationally for a cruise on NCL Getaway from Rome.

I wanted to write this blog to try and help paint a picture of what’s required for those considering overseas travel at the moment. I must admit when starting to complete yet another form to travel, I did ask myself if this was all worth it? fast forward a couple of days to when I was on the pool deck with a glass of fizz in hand and enjoying the sail away party as we left Rome, yes it was all worth it.

Having only booked my travel 4 days before, I didn’t have much time to get organized, so ensuring my travel would be as smooth as possible 1st thing I needed to do was to create a checklist of everything that was required for travel to Italy. This is something I do for every single client (I do not want a panic call from the Airport that something is not 100%)

Travel to Italy (This can change at any point do not accept this as current guidance)

1) Complete a passenger locator form 2) Provide a negative COVID 19 test PCR or Antigen 3) Provide proof of vaccination 4) Call Covid-19 helpline on arrival 5) Surgical masks to be worn on journeys to and from Italy 6) Passport Validity

Return to UK

1) Provide a negative test before return flight 2) Pre-book a day 2 test 3) Complete UK passenger locator form 4) Provide proof of vaccination

The first thing I needed to arrange was my testing, there are so many companies offering testing with several options on how to be tested, such as home test kits, drive and walk-in centres and testing at the airport, it took a while to find one I was comfortable with, the most cost-effective seemed to be home antigen testing and they started from £15, however I was nervous about delays in delivery so opted for a company that offered a test for £29 which included guaranteed delivery via DPD if ordered by 8 pm and a test certificate issued within an hour of submitting the results. I also checked Trustpilot reviews and was pleased to see they scored 4.9 from over 13000 reviews and then one final check was that they are registered on as an official test supplier.

After placing my order an email confirmation quickly followed to say that my order had been accepted, then later that evening a new email advising that my order was with DPD and I’d get an email in the morning with a 1-hour slot of the exact delivery, this all felt very reassuring that my tests would arrive the next day.

The following morning as promised my email arrived instructing of a delivery time between 1634 and 1734 and my test arrived at the very start of the delivery window. The test was exactly the same as the new NHS lateral flow tests, having boxes of these in the cupboard as part of our home testing for school, it did feel a touch frustrating having to pay £29 for a single test, but they are the rules that we have to follow and we have to use a private test to travel.

The test which had to be completed within 48 hours of arrival in Italy, had a QR code on and after scanning on my phone a webpage with instructions was opened and a form to complete after I had the test result, which thankfully was negative. The last part of the process was to upload a picture of the test strip next to my passport and then within an hour my results had been validated and my test certificate for travel was issued as a pdf attachment on email for me to print at home.

I also needed to order my PCR test to take within 2 days of my return to the UK, this has to be ordered in advance as a code is required to enter on the passenger locator form to return to the UK, obviously this isn’t something you want to be dealing with whilst on holiday, so I had to order this before travel. The PCR test is the more expensive Covid test and from my initial search the cost was between £45 and £100 per test, I did come across a drive-through test for £20, which had me questioning if it's too good to be true, I came to the conclusion that they are on the approved list, so as long as they issue my code to enter on the locator form if once home they don’t deliver on the test or results, this is something I can deal with once home. I don’t think I’d take the same chance on my test to get on holiday or to get on the flight home, but for the test once home I was happy to take the saving and deal with any issues once back.

I already had my proof of vaccination via my NHS app which I needed on my UK cruise in August, I did choose to download and print a copy as well and I’m sorry I know this is bad for the environment, but for my own reassurance, I just wanted a pack with all my various documents ready for the airport. I was also asked to upload this pdf to my airline reservation for both the outbound and inbound flights.

Surgical masks was an easy one, a quick order on amazon prime and these were delivered the next day, I took a couple for the flight and needed a good amount for the cruise anyway, as NCL required masks to be worn when moving around the ship.

Passport validity, the EU have a requirement that you must have 6 months valid on your passport from the point of entry, this cannot include any extra months added from your last renewal, I have a few years left on mine so nothing to worry about here.

Having sorted all that next was the passenger locator form, this can only be completed within 48 hours of your arrival in Italy so with my flight due to arrive Wednesday morning I chose to complete this Monday evening. The form was fine took about 10 mins and at the end, a pdf with a QR code was generated for me to print for the airport, without this you are unable to board the flight.