Episode 149 – Just Cruisin’ … Amid Covid

December 27, 2021. Temperature 81°F/27°C. December 28, 2021. Temperature 82°F/28°C #myvikingstory

Sea days are an opportunity to kick back and enjoy the ship’s amenities and on-board culture.

First, you need to know that this is in no way a “party cruise” – even in non-Covid times. Yes, the world cruise includes fully open bar service, but folks who take these journeys are generally more interested in which wine is curated to match their meal, or learning how to make the local destination’s signature drink, than getting a buzz. Sea days mean afternoon high tea in the Wintergarden (see Interlude ); hair, nail and massage appointments; time in the gym; visits to the spa with its sauna, plunge pool, and snow room; extra extravagant al fresco lunch services on the sundeck; and lots and lots of lectures and TedTalks – about wildlife, astronomy, food, culture, architecture, and history (there is a “resident historian” who travels with us), along with several other experts who offer talks, workshops and small Q & A forums.

Several of this Enrichment Team will disembark in LA and be replaced by new experts for the balance of the world cruise.

Some folks gather in groups to do yoga, to knit, to play cards or mahjong, or to do puzzles – there’s even buzz about a world cruise book club being organized – but I love having a couple of hours between lectures to simply sit on a lounge chair on one of the decks reading or catching up on my blogging while sipping chilled white wine. Of course, sea days are also an opportunity to get to know other passengers and, as the cruise progresses, to share our different excursion experiences.

Unfortunately for me, the first of our 2 consecutive sea days was also a seaSICK day, and I spent most of it in our well-appointed cabin bathroom. I wasn’t even keeping Gravol down, so sent Ted to the ship’s store to get me a set of sea bands; I’m convinced they’re a placebo, but I’ll wear anything if it helps even a bit.

By dinner time, having subsisted on water all day, I was really hungry, but leery of anything too heavy. Ginger ale is good for settling heads and stomachs, so I simply decided that Prosecco would be too.

Here are our dinners from the main restaurant’s á la carte menu December 28th:

My dinner L to R:
Mozarella di Bufala Caprese (creamy smooth cheese, crunchy tomato, peppery crisp greens);
Braised Halibut with Turnip Purée, crunchy radish, orange, and red onion pickle (sadly, the incredibly thick piece of halibut was a bit dry, but since we also eat with our eyes, I still enjoyed it) ;
Lemon Tart with French Meringue
(perfection on a plate, and no added sugar!)
Ted’s dinner L to R:
Raspberry and Watermelon Sparkler with lemon juice, rosemary and agave syrup (Ted’s description: “sparkly”);
perfect mid-rare prime rib au jus with a HUGE Yorkshire pudding and green beans (“really good”);
Maple Pecan Bread Pudding with nocciola gelato (“your lemon tart is better”)

After dinner we were treated to the live violin of Juliette Primrose (http://www.julietteprimrose.com/) who regaled us with everything from Pagannini to Kurt Weill/Edith Piaf to Irish jigs and reels (she was Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance fiddler for 8 years!) to country to Led Zeppelin. Frankly, she hooked me when she began her set with Carlos Santana’s “Smooth”.

Left: Juliette’s opening backdrop. Right: Ted captured her in a rare moment when she was not dancing across the stage while fiddling.

Our second sea day, unfortunately, started with a sombre announcement by Captain Lars: 9 guests + 2 crew have now tested positive for Covid, and are in isolation, with 8 close contacts in preventative quarantine. As a precautionary measure all group events in the theatre and all workshops are being cancelled or moved online until daily testing can confirm there is no additional spread. Many of the American passengers had seen the news that the CDC was recommending less stringent consequences for asymptomatic infected vaccinated adults, but the captain reiterated that a closed cruise ship community is not the same as being out in the wide world, and that Viking would continue implementing stricter protocols. Today, hallway walls were being washed down with alcohol, and each time a passenger is done with a deck chair, a crew member swooped in with either alcohol or soap and water before the next person sat down.

We can only hope that there is no further spread, and that the cruise is not aborted due to ports refusing us entry.

Ted was determined to use the day productively and start a sea day gym routine, and I was ready to start a mid-morning sea day walking routine on Deck 2 (where 4 laps of the deck = 1 mile), but neither of us made good on those plans. There are lots of sea days ahead for us to do better. Instead, I did a load of laundry, napped (tummy still not totally used to the waves), and had some lovely peppermint tea and a scone while being serenaded by the Star’s classical duo on cello and violin.

At 2 p.m. this afternoon, there was a Port Talk streamed live on our stateroom video screens to prepare us for tomorrow’s stop in Cartagena, Colombia, but …. at 6 p.m. our captain informed us that Colombia had just changed their threshold for Covid cases on board a cruise ship from 2 percent of total passenger/crew occupancy down to 1 percent, meaning that we are not going to be allowed in port.

Maybe now those few people on board who continue to “stretch” the masking protocols will understand that Viking is only trying to protect passengers, crew, and their livelihoods.

Instead we’ll go directly to Colon, Panama. The guest performer who was to join our ship in Cartagena is being flown in to meet us in Colon.

Five days in, I’d agree with our shipmates that it’s not quite the cruise we expected, with far less socializing than usually possible, and last minute port changes continuing to happen, but as was so eloquently put by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you’ll find you get what you need”.

Sunshine, good food, lovely surroundings, music, and attention to our health and safety. It’s what we need.

Dinner once again was from The Restaurant’s á la carte menu.

L to R: Duck & Chicken Liver Pate Quenelles with cherry tomato confit and toasted brioche triangles;
Pea & Leek Risotto with goat cheese and fresh basil;
Silken Tofu Miso Broth;
Grilled Ribeye with truffled potato mash, wild mushrooms, and Café de Paris butter;
Blueberry Financier with crème de cassis mousse and mandarin orange slices. Everything was consistently good – nothing was great.

12 comments

  1. Fortunately, you get to spread your disappointments over 141 days, Rose. Today will be forgotten before too long, I am sure. At the end of the day, there are other happy things to reflect on – even if it’s just dessert! LOL!

    Keep blogging, and keep sharing happy times and amazing experiences.

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  2. I’m assuming that part of your decision to travel was evaluating risk. Do we get COVID in Collingwood or in “sunshine, good food, music …” Hhhmmmm🤔 Read the cases at home and be even more confident in your choice. Tyftb. – thank you for the blog. It is repetitive because I mean it. But in case you feel it’s trite … Love you

    >

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  3. Just out of curiosity, what happens to the people who have to disembark due to a positive test ? Obviously they must isolate in place and I’m assuming that’s on their dime ? Are they then able to catch up to the ship & rejoin the cruise ? If not it must be very expensive to get back home. Does the cruise offer partial refunds ? But aside from all the financial questions of my Scottish ancestry and accounting history, it must be heartbreaking for them to get this far and then have to abort. My heart goes out to them !

    Stay safe & feel better soon Rose !

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  4. Thank you for sharing your onboard experience. We’re hoping to join you in LA, and really appreciate your positive attitude in a trying situation. Hopefully, all the cases on board will resolve themselves without having to put anyone else off. One of the things we loved about our first WC was the camaraderie and easy friendships that sprang out of shared experience. Unfortunately now, those shared experiences are being severely curtailed in favor of safety. Understandable, but sad. Still, I hope to make your acquaintance after LA and we’ll sail together in calmer seas. (I too suffer from mal de mer, but I never cruise without scopolamine patches. They make me a little loopy, but the DH is okay with that!)

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  5. Just keep your eye on the “positive” experiences, remain vigilant with your safety protocols & enjoy the freedom being away from home. It’s still an adventure…however modified in the present challenges.

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  6. The published policy does not mention rejoining later, but Viking does give a future cruise credit prorated for the missed portion of the cruise. Based on what little we’ve heard from the only disembarked person who has shared info, Viking chose the hotel they were in (separated the positive spouse from the negatives spouse in separate rooms). No word about what’s next since they’ve not yet completed the CDC isolation time (they’re in Florida)

    Calmer waters today, mask firmly in place, and hands washed often – food awaits!

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  7. I am loving the blog and you are in my thoughts to hopefully feel better. Did the Seabands work? Thank you for doing this it gives a future World Cruiser lots of information and a cold New Jersian a ray of warmth.

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