This week, guest bloggers Bert and Rusha Sams challenge us to “get away” in our photos. They write in their challenge post, “Maybe you, too, are yearning to get away after being quarantined during the pandemic. If the packed hotels and restaurants we’ve seen of late are any indication, we’re all “itching” to get away, even if it’s just to rejoin the people we love and the places once familiar to us.” You can read the entire challenge post here.
My first thoughts led me to think about all of the wonderful places we’ve visited over the years, but for my challenge-response, I have decided to focus on the journey rather than the destination. We love to get away whether it’s by car, airplane, train, or cruise ship. Our favorite getaway is the latter. Over the years, we’ve visited far away islands and another continent by cruise ship. The photo above features an image from the cruise ship dock at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. On the left is the Norwegian Pearl, on the right, the Norwegian Sun. Both ships were cruising from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal. Though we stopped at several ports in Central America and even one port in South America, the highlight of this journey was the trip through the canal.
We enjoyed that cruise through the canal so much, that we did it again in 2019 on the Norwegian Star. Here’s a view of the NCL Star entering one of the locks. If you click on the link, in the background you can get a view of the Bridge of the Americas. We know that cruising will be different in this age of Covid, but watching the restart for other cruise lines going well, so far, we’ve decided that it is time to celebrate our 50th Anniversary a year late since our 50th celebration was canceled in October, 2020. We are booked on the Norwegian Bliss for a cruise from Los Angeles down the coast of Mexico to Puerto Vallarta and return.
I know cruise ships got a bad rap from the early days of the coronavirus, but everyone knows much more about how Covid spreads and how it may be mitigated. Cruise lines have updated their ventilation systems and improved onboard medical facilities as well as providing testing and coordinating covid requirements with each port of call.
Proper hand sanitation around food has been a staple of the cruise industry for much longer than any other venue. At the entrance to each restaurant, a hand sanitizer is present, and as you can see by this photo from 2013, during mealtimes, on Norwegian Cruise Lines, a person is always stationed at the main entrance with a spray bottle, and maybe a song, but always with a cheerful “Washie-washie”. In the image above, my wife, Lynn, and our friendly “washie-washie” guy posed for a photo.
Our anniversary cruise along the Mexican Riviera (the west coast of Mexico), includes four stops, all locations where we have visited before. While I am sure we’ll find something new to see on shore, I know we will enjoy our sea days. The views aboard ship are just as interesting. Like the Panama Canal journey, one of the main attractions of an Alaskan cruise is Glacier Bay, National Park. It is another place we can only visit by boat or ship, and there is no place to dock and explore on land. The image above features the coastline of Alaska along the inline passage from Seattle to Juneau.
On our upcoming journey, we will be on the Norwegian Bliss, the company’s second-largest ship with a capacity of over 4,000 passengers. Due to Covid mitigation protocol, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is limiting capacity on this sailing, I believe, by 50 percent. Other cruise lines are also reducing passenger count by large percentages and requiring a high percentage of passengers to be vaccinated. In NCL’s case, they are only planning on 100% vaccinated passengers and crew. They are in the process of suing the state of Florida for interfering with their business plan by Florida’s state mandate that cruise passengers not be required to provide vaccination status.
I am not going to wade into the political ramifications other than to say that my wife and I do not plan to sail out of Florida until they allow vaccination disclosure so that we can sail on ships where we know everyone has been vetted for vaccination status. The image above features the Atrium Cafe from the level above the ship’s atrium deck. In this case, it’s the Norwegian Star from our second Panama Canal cruise in 2019.
Lynn and I are both excited to return to cruising, and those hours spent just walking the deck or standing at the rail just watching the ocean as we go. In January, 2022, we have already booked two back-to-back cruises out of San Juan Puerto Rico. We will be on the Epic, though slightly smaller than the Bliss, it’s passenger capacity is still over 4,000. We are hopeful that, by then, the vaccination status issues will be behind us. I know cruising will be different in a post-covid world, but so will most travel venues for some time to come.
Thanks again to Bert and Rusha Sams for providing me an opportunity to share our favorite get-away. For a better view of all of these images, click on any image to be redirected to my Flickr site where the images are posted in a format better suited to pixel-peeping and to see metadata and more details of the images specifically.