True confessions-A cruise to nowhere-10

Another week of medium confusion as the last of the “World Cruises” of 2022 refuses to give up the ghost.

It turns out Castries, St. Lucia is another of the COVID “bubble tour” places and Roseau, Dominica and Jamaica are acting the same. Either you go on a ship’s tour, take a government sanctioned tour or a taxi to government sanctioned (and cordoned off) sites or are restricted to the cruise terminal area (which may – or may not – have a row of stands selling non-differentiated souvenirs).

The ship has jettisoned its art instructor, bridge instructor and the hired COVID testers in Barbados. I am speculating (to myself and you, but not to others aboard) that world events (Russia/Ukraine conflict) will be influencing the planned Baltic leg of this cruise far more than just a cancelation of a stop at St. Petersburg. The choices I see are 1) pull the plug in Miami and send everyone home, 2) do the Med, then head through the Suez Canal and finish the trip to NYC with the originally planned trip around Africa, 3) Spend lots more time in the Med, 4) try to do Baltic with more time in Gdansk and maybe Norwegian coast 5) Head south to South America.

An answer, such as it is, came in today showing what was the substitute for St. Petersburg; an extra day in Copenhagen, Denmark, an extra day, hitting the German port of Travemunde, Germany and a day at Mariehamn, Finland. As we have been to both German ports, assuming the schedule holds – and Poland doesn’t get involved in the Russia/Ukraine conflict. We’ll see.

And, just when we thought it was safe to go into the water again, there was an announcement that, due to rough seas at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, we are stopping at Catalina Island (the one in the Dominican Republic – not the one in California which would have required another trip through the Panama Canal). This is an even less interesting place than Punta Cana as it is barely more than a six square kilometer island with a beach – usually used by Costa Cruise Line as their private island. Well, actually, it was a pristine beach set up to handle a cruise ship of thousands and the hundred or so of us who showed up had it to ourselves.

While we, and about 25% of the rest of the passengers – as well as 100% of the crew - continue to wear KN95 masks against the spread of COVID, the balance of the passengers have become less likely to do so. As COVID spread is still a factor at many of the ports we are visiting, my feeling is that it is only a matter of time before it reenters the ship’s population.

Miami is an inflection point and it’s not as if there haven’t been other itinerary changes on this cruise :slight_smile:

On a different tack; Oceania Cruise Line sits at the level that I call “luxury-lite”. While alcoholic drinks cost extra, soft drinks are included. So is unlimited free internet and, in the case of this cruise, free medical care. The food is as good (or better) than any other cruise line and the service is generally excellent. The specialty restaurants are free and have excellent menus. The buffet deck offers such delicacies as baby lamb chips and lobster tails every night. One of the important differentiators of this line is that, even on the buffet deck, all of the food is served and passengers don’t handle it. Since this cruise is carrying less than half the usual passengers and there are about 1 ½ times the number of crew as passengers, the service is almost overwhelming. There are ACBL sanctioned duplicate bridge games (as well as lessons) on sea days and the “art” sessions include such projects as needlepoints, Polynesian projects, watercolor and acrylic painting as well as Asian ink painting.

The itineraries generally offer a higher proportion of port days to sea days than most other lines as well as a higher proportion of overnight stays in ports.

In short, while other lines with small ships, such as Silver Sea, Regent and Seaborne, offer a few additional amenities, they are generally much more expensive. Other lines, such as Holland America, Princess, Cunard and Celebrity would be considered “mid-level” and cost less, but don’t offer the same level of service, amenities or itinerary. In addition, their ships tend to be far larger which not only causes crowding under some circumstances, but also make it difficult for their ships to dock at smaller ports with the ease of smaller ships. As in all things, there are no perfect solutions and all choices involve some level of compromise, but many find this to be a reasonable place to land.