Silver Shadow starts service in Iceland with protocols in place.
By Chris Roberts
There’s been no shortage of speculation about how and when cruise ships will return to service. It seems the bigger the ship, the longer it takes to get it ready. Of course, there are exceptions.
The 260-passenger Silver Shadow (normal carrying about 380) would make the U.S. Center for Disease Control proud. Sure, the usual supply of face masks was onboard, Plenty of face masks, worn by all except when eating and drinking. Buffets were bountiful and served to you by staff.
To take this cruise, all guests needed to be fully vaccinated. Plus they were tested for a negative Covid result before being allowed on the ship.
As the Destination Consultant working onboard, I was tested at the beginning of each of three 10-day Iceland voyages we travelled. Butlers administered temperature checks each morning to everyone.
Rather than jamming everyone in the Show Lounge for the safety/lifeboat drill, normal before the pandemic, two drills were held to maintain social distancing. And you had better be there. Leave your life vest behind. At the conclusion of the drill, guests are escorted to their respective lifeboats
“There is no safer place on earth,” says cruise director Bob Leininger. The signs in the elevators say, “Two persons per car only.” Hand washing/sanitizing machines are waiting for diners entering La Teraza dining room. In fact, sanitizers are everywhere, and certainly, anywhere there is food. When boarding, besides being tested, each guest is given their own personal sanitizing “gift.” It’s a leather amenity pouch (larger than those silly ones seen on airlines with stubby toothbrush and eyeshades). Silversea’s is filled with masks and sanitizing lotions—a first-class way to send a clear message.
No matter where you walk, face masks are always nearby in case you forget yours in your suite. How about the library? When you finish paging through a book, you need to deposit the book in a large Plexiglas box. The reading material is then scheduled for sanitization and replaced back on the shelf.
There were four tendering ports on the eight-port Iceland itinerary. Let’s face it, social distancing on those lifeboats is not easy. After each ride, a crew member who wears a special space-age backpack comes aboard (when the guest are off) and spray with a boat with a sanitizing mist. The same procedure is done with the suites on turnaround days, and in the Show Lounge after performances. Any germ never has a chance.
In the library, when you touch a book, you must deposit it into a large Plexiglass box where it will be sanitized and returned to the shelf.
Every effort was made to make guests feel they had made the right decision to return to cruising. Even on tour buses, when you handed in your tour tickets, you dropped them into a plastic bag rather than handing them to the guides.
One more thing. There was a special collection of suites (call it an isolation ward, if you want) in case anyone did test positive during the voyage. During the three voyages I worked on, they were not needed. If you are considering a cruise, try a smaller vessel. It isn’t always size that matters.
By the way, for the shoppers, Iceland is limited, but you have to get the book:
“50 Crazy Romantic Things to do Iceland.” After all how many volcanos and waterfalls can be endured.
Travel writer Chris Roberts is a veteran covering the Caribbean & Central America. As a Destination Consultant for cruise lines, he has been in the Panama Canal over a hundred times and never got his feet wet once. His writing credits include Porthole Magazine, Miami Herald Publishing, airline magazines, and websites. A journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota, Chris began his career in radio. “I was told I had a face for radio.” He is based in Hollywood, Florida. About Us – Cruise, Shop, Save and how to collaborate. (cruiseshopsave.com)