Cruising in covid times part Two
Despite being a regular traveller, I have to be honest I was a little nervous and before setting off for the airport, I double and triple checked my paperwork against the guidance, as it turned out I was worrying about nothing and other than a 20 min queue for bag drop, I breezed through the airport all the forms were fine and accepted and I had plenty of time for shopping, breakfast and a coffee before boarding the flight.
Arriving in Rome again was all straightforward, a bit of a queue for passport control and then a check of my passenger locator form and my vaccine passport and then it was off to baggage collection and out of the airport for a transfer to Civitavecchia to board the ship.
After an hour transfer, I arrived at the port and it was onto the last round of form checking and covid test before boarding, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) ran a really smooth process and within 30 mins my negative test was confirmed and I was onboard.
On the cruise
NCL have strict Covid protocols and the cruise felt really safe onboard, all guests and crew must be fully vaccinated, masks are to be worn when moving around the ship, hand sanitisers located all over the ship, the buffet was served to you so you don’t have multiple hands touching utensils, additional cleaning was in place and you would regularly see staff cleaning touchpoints such as lift buttons, handrails, door handles etc
Our cruise arrived in Spain and as arriving on the cruise we weren’t required to complete any forms, all we needed to get off was our cruise card and passport, we were also advised to have our vaccine passports handy in case these were required in any restaurants etc.
Having left Spain, the day before we arrived back to Italy NCL arranged the antigen tests required to enter Italy and fortunately, the same test results could be used to enter the UK, so yay one less cotton bud up my nose! The results came through really quickly on email and were followed up by a paper copy delivered to my stateroom overnight.
Also to re-enter Italy another passenger locator form was required, NCL provided details of what was required and I chose to complete this whilst in port in Majorca to use my 4g data rather than relying on the ship's wifi. Although the ship did offer 30 mins free wifi to enable you to complete the form on the ship and to access your email to get your covid test results,
Return to the UK
So to return home I already had in place my negative covid test result from the antigen test provided by NCL, I’d also completed my UK passenger locator form whilst I had a good 4g connection in Majorca, as the afternoon in Majorca was within 48 hours of my return to the UK. The form seems to go on and on and seemed to take around 20 mins to complete, the code from my bargain PCR test was accepted so that was a relief!
On arrival to the UK we had about a 30 min wait at passport control, on presenting my passport I had my passenger locator form ready on my phone only to be told it was all linked to my passport and they could see the form on-screen, so that was it I was back in the UK and whilst a lot of hoops to jump through, everything went really smoothly.
I know this blog has been quite lengthy, but it's a true reflection of what needs to be followed for travel, whilst it may seem daunting when broken down into stages it really is straight forward and going through this process shouldn’t be the reason not to travel, what really does need to be considered is the cost and to make sure you include the cost of your testing with your holiday budget.
Oh actually there was just one last thing for me and that was my bargain day 2 PCR test, the company I had booked with was a drive-through with a site at Birchwood near Warrington, this was only a 10 min detour on my drive home from the airport. On arrival at the site I was greeted by a friendly staff member who gave me my test pack and clear instructions, I completed the test and linked the test pack to my order via the website on my phone, which was all fairly straightforward, so after depositing the test in the dropbox it was home time. I had my results in my inbox at 11 pm the same day and I was really impressed, considering the price.finLLY
**disclaimer - Please note these travel rules were correct at the start of September 2021, rules can and have changed regularly and at short notice so if you are due to travel to Italy please check the current advice from gov.uk. Anyone who has booked with me will receive full details of travel rules and I’ll help you every step of the way to ensure you are fully informed of the latest guidance.