January 6, 2022. 75°F/24°C
For anyone at home in Ontario wondering how we’re faring on a cruise ship while they’re going back into modified lockdown, and for any folks reading this who are feeling trepidation about joining us in LA, Ted thought today would be a good time to do a blog about all the measures on board to prevent the spread of Covid.
Our day starts with spitting into a barcoded personalized tube before 8:00 a.m. and putting those tubes, in zipped plastic bags, outside our door for our room steward to collect and deliver to the onboard PCR testing lab.
Then we can go back to sleep if we wish (I almost always do…. the beds really are incredibly comfy).
Sometime before 10:00 a.m. we need to complete our daily 4-question health screening, either on our phone or tablet, or on the room’s video screen.
Then it’s off to have breakfast – remembering to put on our lanyards with our contact tracing disks before leaving our cabin. We keep them in our table tray, along with the alcohol hand rub, disinfectant wipes, and 3-ply ultrasonic masks, all provided by Viking and replenished as needed. Of course, we’re also welcome to wear our own masks; some pretty blinged-out versions appear at dinner time!
At the entry to each of the restaurants is an electronic temperature sensor. It first verifies our identity, matching our face to our room key (mine works perfectly even with my mask on, maybe because it recognizes my glasses), and then displays our temperature along with a green “normal” message (we hope!!)
Every restaurant has multiple hand sanitizers near their entry – the World Café also has sinks and soap for hand-washing at each entrance. Hand sanitizer stations are also scattered around the ship in traffic areas. The “public” restrooms all have both soap and sanitizer at the sinks – all in touch-less dispensers of course.
At noon, Captain Lars updates us with the status of Covid cases on board, based on completion of that morning’s PCR tests. We all listen carefully, hoping that he’ll say there are no new cases. He always ends his noon report by reminding us to wear our masks, wash our hands frequently, and take good care of ourselves and those around us.
We generally use the stairs to get to other decks, but Viking has added new features to the elevators too, like the new ultraviolet air purifiers mounted in each one, and additional signage. The Viking Daily reminds us – daily – to wear our masks and social distance in the elevators. It’s not hard to comply. No one is going anywhere in a hurry, so waiting for an empty elevator is not a hardship.
The crew are always masked – and no, it’s not hard to recognize their faces, or tell by their eyes that they’re smiling. Of course, they all have name badges, which helps!
We’ve remarked that the energy that goes into cleaning every single day is incredible. No sooner has a table been vacated than it is cleared and sanitized. Viking ships are always spotless, but on this journey even the hallway walls are regularly washed down with alcohol ! Anyone doing that back at home?
While on the topic of the crew, we’ve been told by our Cruise Director, Aaron, that all of the new crew joining us in LA are being quarantined in a hotel for 10 days prior to embarkation. They’re taking no risks. Crew are also not disembarking at ports. Just imagine working long hours every day on a 6 month contract and not getting to leave the ship on your day off – in order to keep passengers safe. The thought makes me want to be extra considerate of them.
In the gym, every second machine is cordoned off to maximize distancing between puffing, sweating bodies – and yes, masks stay on even in the gym.
Ted and I haven’t yet used the spa or sauna, but understand that numbers of users at any given time are limited, and if it is “full” you need to wait or come back later. I did take advantage of having a mani/pedi done though, and can verify that clients are well distanced, with both the client and the salon tech masked throughout (except when “actively sipping” the lovely cappuccino they brought me). The masks did not prevent Justina and I from having a wonderful conversation as she dealt with feet and cuticles that had not seen professional care in 20 months.
While there are a few COVID19 cases isolated on board and being monitored daily, we feel quite safe. Our only frustration is with those (very) few people who are still not masking properly, but hopefully a combination of crew reminders, peer pressure, and the occasional evil eye will eliminate that issue.
Next up: more food and entertainment.