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So we booked the first SD2 voyage - June 26 departure round trip Athens - about a month ago.  As of last Friday we are now within the 15 days when cancellation for any reason no longer applies.  Only yesterday did we receive an email with many attachments - much of it made sense, including sending a selfie head shot in advance for the room cards and sending a signed credit card form for extra charges.  The attachments also included a health survey to fill out day of embarkation.  As we all know, these are things that used to be handled on the ship once on board, but doing it in advance makes for a more contactless boarding experience.

 

As to COVID, they sent a hyperlink to the new policies and protocols on the website.  Not listed in the cover email as to what to bring to embarkation, but included in the policies link, is a requirement to be vaccinated (that’s fine and expected), but also TWO testing requirements prior to embarkation even if vaccinated.  These are a negative RT-PCR test given 72 hours prior to arrival in Athens (or whatever the port happens to be for embarkation) AND a negative antigen test administered alongside the ship.  In addition, a second antigen test will be administered during the voyage.  SD confirmed the negative PCR test is required when asked to confirm (even though it is NOT required to enter Greece).   USA residents will need yet another negative PCR test within 3 calendar days of the return flight to the USA (unclear if SD can do the test type onboard or whether one must take this into account in booking the return flights - staying a day or two longer with attendant costs to be sure a proper type of test result can be obtained).  The SD policies link says they can do a test with a written report for a fee, but then the policies statement also says SD is not an accredited lab (which from my reading of the CDC entry rules for the USA means the SD test is not sufficient to re-enter the USA).  

 

We all want to travel safely, but isn’t that what the vaccinations are for?  Seems like an awful lot of testing and re-testing etc. for a one week voyage, again for fully vaccinated passengers.  I have not yet received a reply to an email asking if the negative PCR test prior to embarkation is a legal requirement or a SeaDream policy that is not legally required.  

 

Felt an obligation to share this information so others are aware …

 

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Not terribly surprised by this. The return test is a US government requirement, as I understand it, and I believe the 72 hour PCR prior test is an EU requirement? 
 

IF the exchange for the extra antigen testing is a relaxed mask policy on board, then it seems worth it.  Any word on onboard expectations?
 

Your overall statement though is right - cruisers have a lot of testing for a 1 week cruise right now.

 

Appreciate the update. 

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Posted (edited)

You need to clarify what “departure” means here:


“Prior to embarkation, you will need to provide proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.”

 

For most trips this refers to the last leg of a flight into a country.

 

Over on the Viking Bermuda thread there has been much angst about getting a “same-day” or “24 hour”  PCR test on a weekend in smaller towns.  So research and plan your test timing carefully.  There were so many issues in that regard that Bermuda switched from a 3-day requirement to a 4-day.

 

This PCR requirement is a major minefield, tread carefully...

 

 

 

Edited by Ragnar Danneskjold
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Posted (edited)

PS - Several of the Viking cruisers that made it to Bermuda for the June 15th cruise said had they known what was in store for them they wouldn’t have booked.  And said they would recommend waiting until things become less chaotic.  And that was only to go to Bermuda from the US, vs flying all the way to the Med.

 

 

 

Edited by Ragnar Danneskjold
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21 minutes ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

You need to clarify what “departure” means here:


“Prior to embarkation, you will need to provide proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.”

 

For most trips this refers to the last leg of a flight into a country.

 

Over on the Viking Bermuda thread there has been much angst about getting a “same-day” or “24 hour”  PCR test on a weekend in smaller towns.  So research and plan your test timing carefully.  There were so many issues in that regard that Bermuda switched from a 3-day requirement to a 4-day.

 

This PCR requirement is a major minefield, tread carefully...

 

 

 

 

This has been a cause of great concern for us these past few days.  Late today SD clarified that based on the latest information from the port agent in Athens, dealing what the port authority there, the PCR test must be administered within 72 hours of arrival at the Port of Piraeus.  One could state it differently as “departure” refers NOT to departure from home (USA in our case) but “departure” means departing the port.  In any event, it is entirely possible to mess this up and get the test too early for acceptance.

 

To add to the variables, the 72 hour test for Greece is both a SeaDream policy in its health and safety protocols for all SD voyages (implying it applies even if not required by local authorities) AND in the case of Greece, and perhaps other countries, a local port requirement.  As to Greece, this is despite the fact one can enter Greece with a vaccination card and not have a negative test.  So many twists and turns to keep track of!

 

Foolishly or not, we have decided to go ahead and run the gauntlet here since we have paid and have airfare and hotels booked.  We probably would not have booked this trip had we known then what we know now, but that is the situation.  The really tricky part is the Greek authorities apparently did not advise SD of the 72 hour test requirement until recent days.  In our case, it so happens we can get the test before departure from the USA but may not get the results until we are in transit.  Anyone who planned to fly to Athens a day or more earlier will be in pickle unless they can get the test done while in Athens.  Thankfully the airport has a medical center which reportedly can get test results fairly quickly - which we plan to do upon disembarkation to meet the USA rules.

 

Please say a prayer or lift a glass or crack a joke or do anything to send positive vibes our way … we will report back here … the good, great, bad and ugly.

 

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UPDATE:  Earlier today we regrettably cancelled the upcoming Athens voyage departing June 26.  Too many tests, too much ambiguity, etc.  While we could schedule a test here in Florida before departure, we couldn’t get a nearby testing site to guarantee we would have the results in time, certainly not before boarding the overseas flight.  This was complicated by the Greek port requirement the test be done within 72 hours of arriving at the port, not within 72 hours of departing the USA.  This combined with multiple other SD tests to embark etc. made this all too much for us.  We tip our hats to those smarter and able to run this gauntlet.  We wonder how SD’s policy of various tests will sit with folks especially since vaccinations are also required.  This makes is very difficult for those not in Europe to go on Med voyages this summer and fall as we had hoped to do.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, JES4845 said:

UPDATE:  Earlier today we regrettably cancelled the upcoming Athens voyage departing June 26.  Too many tests, too much ambiguity, etc.  While we could schedule a test here in Florida before departure, we couldn’t get a nearby testing site to guarantee we would have the results in time, certainly not before boarding the overseas flight.  This was complicated by the Greek port requirement the test be done within 72 hours of arriving at the port, not within 72 hours of departing the USA.  This combined with multiple other SD tests to embark etc. made this all too much for us.  We tip our hats to those smarter and able to run this gauntlet.  We wonder how SD’s policy of various tests will sit with folks especially since vaccinations are also required.  This makes is very difficult for those not in Europe to go on Med voyages this summer and fall as we had hoped to do.

Our sympathies,

Your reasons are completely well recognised.

 

Blondie and Hum will follow; Italy requires a 5 day quarantine.

It is a most reasonable requirement in light of increasing Covid cases (though fortunately most Brits are vaccinated and deaths and hospital admissions are low).

 

Sea Dream will feel the effect sadly as the crew muster from abroad.

 

The light at the end of the tunnel just receded.

Edited by ho-hum
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Sorry, Hum, but my reading of the Italian entry requirements for Brits (effective May 16),

makes no mention of quarantine for fully vaccinated citizens. Same for Greece.

 

Of course, pre and post arrival tests are de rigueur BUT, to be expected in light of

ever emerging variants.

 

As Winnie use to say, “soldier on”, Hum.  Kisses to Blondie.

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TODAY’s PS … so as the worm turns … woke up early to keep unwinding the Athens round trip due to depart a week from today, cancelled because of the unwieldy requirement of a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival at the Port of Piraeus … only to read on SD’s website their policy requiring same was REMOVED yesterday, shortly after we were forced to cancel because of it.  (And reconsider future Med trip this fall.)

 

Now to be fair … earlier this past week SD said the 72 hour test tied to arrival at the port (making it tricky to do depending on when one departs home) … was ALSO a local Greek port authority rule.  And so indeed it may still be required for this particular voyage, but at least SD has removed it as a matter of SD policy where local rules don’t require it.

 

The antigen tests ship-side prior to embarkation and once during the voyage remain in effect and do not pose unreasonable burdens.  Left unsaid in the policies, however, is what happens if someone (crew or guest) tests positive during the voyage.  This is what happened in Barbados last time a restart occurred and just happened on other lines.  As a friend in the pharmaceutical field reminded me yesterday, as is occurring with sports teams, the more testing is done (even for noble goals), the greater likelihood someone (even vaccinated) might show asymptomatic virus.  Back to quarantine again if so?

 

All the rosy reporting about travel opening up this summer is just … rosy reporting … the devil always lurks in the pesky details.  Here is to hoping it gets worked out very soon, but for now, at least for us, we are staying “domesticated” as it were.  All be safe!

 

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Completely understand and agree with your comments re testing, etc.

However, think we will all have to accept these procedures as the new

norm, well into the months ahead.

 

Guess each of us will have to carefully weigh the pros, cons and angst

of travel under these circumstances, as you have.  For us, after

eighteen months of virtual isolation, for the moment, we’ll through

caution to the wind.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, commander courageous said:

Sorry, Hum, but my reading of the Italian entry requirements for Brits (effective May 16),

makes no mention of quarantine for fully vaccinated citizens. Same for Greece.

 

Of course, pre and post arrival tests are de rigueur BUT, to be expected in light of

ever emerging variants.

 

As Winnie use to say, “soldier on”, Hum.  Kisses to Blondie.

Sorry Commander,

But really ?
Would’nt Brits be notified of changes.

 

See link below:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
 

Happy to “soldier on”………what option do we have. ?

Kisses delivered to Blondie.

 

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Well our Greek tragedy continues to unfold …

 

See earlier post today about SD dropping as a matter of their policy the negative 72 hour PCR test prior to departure from the port … note there I said SD told us earlier this week it was not just their policy, but a local Greek port rule.

 

Well … not so fast! … checking online later this morning for COVID rules applicable to the extensive Greek ferry system, including Port of Piraeus departures, and lo and behold … no such local rule!  I took a screen shot of the ferry line’s web site which clearly, with underscoring and capital letters, states, in the alternative, a negative test, recovery, OR proof of vaccination (which we have).  So no need for the test that couldn’t be done prior to departure from the USA and stay within 72 hours of port arrival that forced us to cancel.  As we had been led to believe in the first place … at least in Greece, a vaccination card satisfies without PCR testing.  (The ship side antigen test poses no such logistical issues and makes sense.)

 

So you could say we cancelled for nothing!  Did SD tell us their policy changed a day after we cancelled?  No.  And BEWARE … under the “book with confidence” policy … you can cancel, as we were forced to do by the now abandoned policy/local rule … and we got a voucher for the full amount paid, BUT BEWARE said voucher when used on a future voyage is forfeited in full if one cancels that new voyage within 120 days of its sailing (i.e., the book with confidence flexibility does not apply to the rebooked voyage).

 

As Commander Courageous said - we are all eager to travel after 18 months or so of being home bound … and as always, everyone has to identify and weigh the risks for themselves … so sharing all this not to complain per se (some bumps are to be expected when getting all this going again) … but sharing so as each of you decides for yourselves … fellow SeaDreamers have whatever benefit this information can provide.

 

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38 minutes ago, commander courageous said:

Right you are Hum, but they JUST changed yet again.

Will bet that by the date of your scheduled cruise, it will open up 

as millions being lost in tourism revenues.

 

Love and kisses

Yes.  Sooner or later the world's need to make a living will overrun the bureaucrats need to control..

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1 hour ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

We have decided just to vacation in place for the next year or two.  Why the heck would we want to go anywhere else:

 

image.thumb.png.3c6561f5915560691571185568f58245.png
 

image.thumb.png.ab32fb9499be553f06bdafda77a61ec6.png
 

image.png

 

Looks marvelous … what are your room rates and bar selections? LOL

 

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18 minutes ago, JES4845 said:

 

Looks marvelous … what are your room rates and bar selections? LOL

 

We found his rates reasonable and the bar is top notch.  And he can cook too!🍸

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2 hours ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

And for those that find ol’ Ragnar’s, ummm, aroma off-putting, these are just a couple of miles up the coast:

 

https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/laguna-niguel

 

https://www.waldorfastoriamonarchbeach.com
 

https://www.montagehotels.com/lagunabeach/

A month ago, I spent a lovely few days with my Grandson (had not seen him in over a year) at Monarch Beach Resort. It is a wonderful place and their restaurant (the steakhouse one) is exceptional. The 10 year old loves filet mignon and fine dining 🙂  Grace Kelly, my granddoggie came too. It was perfection.

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I’ve found it somewhat surprising that our little backwater nestled in the nether regions of Orange County, equally far from LA and San Diego, should have such a collection of nice resort hotels.  It’s a great place to live, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to vacation here.  Haha, perhaps we are too close to it to see it 🙂

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12 hours ago, Ragnar Danneskjold said:

I’ve found it somewhat surprising that our little backwater nestled in the nether regions of Orange County, equally far from LA and San Diego, should have such a collection of nice resort hotels.  It’s a great place to live, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to vacation here.  Haha, perhaps we are too close to it to see it 🙂

My family lives in Newport Beach so this is a very special place for me. My little Grandson loves hotel resort living so it is a treat when Gramie comes to visit and we stay at one of these places you mentioned. The 3/4 day Disney cruise out of San Diego also works well. 😉

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