The world is definitely opening up, and more and more of us are travelling further afield.
There are still protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety, whilst we ‘live’ with and adapt to Covid-19.
If you have travelled in the last year or so, you will understand the apprehension from form filling and testing, checking and re-checking paperwork
Then comes the excitement of checking in, getting through security, browsing in the shops for things you might have forgotten or think you need and finally settling into the lounge with your first glass of something.
Just as you are thinking of and chatting to friends about the adventures ahead you’ve realised time has passed quickly and you need to head to the gate for boarding.
Well that was us on 16 February. Oh what fun we had planned in Miami and our Caribbean cruise with Virgin Voyages on board the Scarlet Lady.
We boarded the Virgin flight – everyone wearing their masks – and the crew handed out extra masks and antibacterial wipes for the trays.
Shortly after settling into our seats, the cabin crew checks and safety briefing were completed and the captain announced we were ready for take off.
We were on our way. It wasn’t long until the refreshments came round and I was sipping a G&T whilst watching 007.
The flight was 9 hours 45 minutes which was a bit longer than usual due to the winds. We landed in Miami, documents in hand and queued for passport control. This did take some time but was as expected in the USA.
We hadn’t pre booked transfers but it was easy to jump into a taxi to get to our hotel near the port.
We chose the Holiday Inn Port Of Miami as it was only a couple of minutes taxi to the port for our cruise the next day. That and being a stroll across the road to Bayside retail and food area.
We had a few cocktails overlooking the marina and an evening meal in Bubba Gumps.
The next morning we had a few hours before our mini van was picking us up, so a few hours was spent around the shops in Bayside, and just across the marina, the Scarlet Lady sat majestically waiting for us!
By 11:30am, the four of us were in our transfer on route to the port. The new V Terminal looked very impressive straight in front of us, with the Scarlet Lady rising up behind it.
As we looked out of the right hand window of the minivan, we all groaned "Oh God!" in unison... the queues for testing were soooooo long!
We were greeted from the transfer by a crew member and our luggage was checked and cabin numbers clearly written. We were then to join the queue at our designated time slot.
Once inside the testing terminal, the lines moved quite quickly.
We had to complete paperwork for our tests, then we were called to a testing table. When the tests were completed, we moved further through the testing terminal to wait the 30 minutes for the results. We were given a group number and an area to sit in whilst we waited.
The queuing wasn’t socially distanced but the seating within the terminal was. Ten minutes after sitting down, a crew member approached one of our travelling companions and they went for a chat.
Despite being negative just over 24 hours earlier, that apprehension was back as you wait for your results… After what seemed like an eternity, even though it was only 25 minutes, our results were in. Yeahhh - we were still negative. Now to find the others and get shaking for champagne.
The crew member returned and we enquired where the others were! She was very discreet and advised us that they were not allowed to board as one of them had unfortunately tested positive.
She asked had the four of us travelled together? Yes - it was only a short trip to the port so we had a large minivan.
Unfortunately we couldn’t board either and went to the holding area with the others.
Cruise companies have protocols for a reason and it is so important to keep everyone safe - crew and guests alike.
It did feel rather surreal as we went in the lift to the basement where the luggage carousels were housed and a few lonely bags were enjoying the ride.
We were advised on the protocols for Miami state when tested positive, offered suggestions for accommodation, and we spoke to both insurance parties. Miami state does not operate quarantine hotels or facilities.
Some drinks and snacks arrived whilst we made arrangements for where we would stay and Virgin Voyages provided two transfers to the hotel where we’d arranged to stay.
Whilst we were all disappointed, thankfully we had insurance and there are times when some things are just not meant to be.
On a positive, Ollie however did meet the beautiful Astrid and they shall continue their travels together.
Jonathan, myself, Ollie and Astrid enjoyed a few days in Miami before flying back to London.
For anyone travelling, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ensure you have adequate travel insurance and book any trip with a reliable travel agent.
Roll on May when the six of us will be on board the Valliant Lady.