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JES4845

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Everything posted by JES4845

  1. Just a thought for context … you can’t really compare the Norwegian and Med voyages for largely obvious reasons. The Norwegian voyages rightfully cater and appeal to Norwegians given travel rules and have been running 90-100 passengers lately, so almost full, which is good of course. The Med voyages involving multiple countries and passengers traveling across borders have ended up about half full or less at sailing time. Many of us have had to cancel at the last minute for various reasons due to all the uncertainty, including changing rules and earlier SD policies. Hope it all works for you. We would all benefit from your first hand Med experience.
  2. As you may know, the first SD sailing this year just concluded today round trip Athens, so perhaps you will hear from some of them later this week. All I heard was the ship was about half full, plus or minus 50 guests, and the newly renovated SD2 rooms (not yet done on SD1) look very nice, along with other new furniture etc. on outside decks. Welcome hearing from others!
  3. Thanks for the comments recently posted. Pleased to report that while the entire matter was stressful, costly and unfortunate … to its credit, SD did process the refunds on the future voyages we cancelled within days, so thanks much for that. And to be clear, we cancelled these voyages largely out of concern that until things settle down as to travel rules, etc., we just aren’t comfortable especially going outside the country.
  4. Glad to clarify so others don’t get caught too. To be VERY CLEAR … ours was NOT a case of SeaDream misinforming us about local rules that we should have learned for ourselves … INSTEAD (and I have NUMEROUS emails to prove it) … within a matter of days before departure, SD said is it was SD POLICY (not a government’s) that we get a certain type of test within a narrow window of ARRIVING at the port (NOT within x hours or days before departure from home - BIG DIFFERENCE) … When we asked SD about this, they shifted from it was their policy to “it is a local port rule” in Greece … check the website under health protocols and you will see they admit they dropped it a few days after imposing it as THEIR POLICY … but then a single day after we were forced to cancel because we couldn’t be sure to get the test in time before we departed home … SD said “ oops, we’ve changed our policy … no longer required” … they also refused to provide proof it was EVER ALSO a local port rule as they had claimed … when presented with evidence it was NOT a local port rule in Athens … they refused to respond. They then treated our forced cancellation as voluntary - as if we just woke up and changed our minds (when when were getting all ready to go), had paid business class tickets, hotels, airport transfers to the port etc. … meaning a credit not a refund … then we found out the credit has limitations so we would forfeit it if we canceled the new booking with the credit for any reason within 120 days of sailing (no Book with Confidence Policy applied). SD never apologized, NEVER took ownership for THEIR mistake … just said basically OH DARN TOO BAD … this after we have hundreds of nights … dozens of voyages since 2008 … so we did the only thing we could do, we canceled THREE other bookings we had on file through January 2022. We were once on track for 2-3 voyages per year …
  5. Precisely the point … as we learned to our detriment in the recent fiasco involving the Athens round trip we were blocked from due to SD’s lack of follow through (due to depart this Saturday) … they act as if COVID is over … passengers, even “Club Members” … are left to fend for themselves as to the various changing rules, etc. No help at all.
  6. As to the Oslo to Rome voyage, since it originates in Norway, is it restricted to Norwegians and certain others (Denmark?) as was the case last summer? I’m not seeing anything online confirming more open access to Norway yet, certainly not for Americans based on US Embassy website. Perhaps others in Europe could go on it? Any updated information on entry rules for Norway would be welcome.
  7. Looks marvelous … what are your room rates and bar selections? LOL
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. Yes indeed on SD2 - good to see. Heard many SD2 crew including wait staff are now in Malta awaiting SD2’s arrival June 20 and then on to Greece. We are booked on the Athens round trip June 26-July 3 and SD confirms it is a GO! We are working through the testing issues and other requirements now. SD1 crew are also being recalled to duty in coming days with crew heading to Oslo per reports. No doubt there will be bumps in the road but this is all progress. Welcome learning what others are hearing.
  12. 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.
  13. Here is the link to the SeaDream health and safety protocols, COVID rules, etc. https://seadream.com/health-safety-protocols/ This should help answer your question about onboard expectations and other issues.
  14. 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 …
  15. Pleased to report on very good authority that many key SD1 crew - deck and engine for example - have been on board in Norway for quite some time now - many weeks if not over a month - to get things ready. We too have several upcoming bookings. Clarity is always preferred over ambiguity, at least ideally. That said, one has to assume the major cause for fuzziness is the very fluid situation country to country and maybe even port to port as to rules, processes and restrictions. Totally agree the more SD communication - even to say TBD - the better.
  16. Not hearing SD is requiring excursions - those ships doing so are following country and local port rules to protect their local citizens from tourists!
  17. Hearing same for SD2 crew - meeting the ship later this week or early next week when SD2 will be en route from Lisbon to Athens for the June 26th voyage. The SD1 crew going to Norway soon or now is interesting because there are no public voyages on the website for SD1 until middle of August (earlier ones in Spain, Portugal and France were deleted). Anyone know what’s up - another summer in Norway until mid-August?
  18. Do say Mr. Hum … friend and ally on the crossing. Makes sense. Why then the cancellation of SD1 until September - or perhaps the itineraries are being revamped to be reposted as soon as revised? What else could explain it if more revenue in the Med? Perhaps put SD1 in dry dock following the lengthy time for SD2 soon coming to an end in Lisbon? Seemed like lots of bookings for both ships so the demand is likely there to justify operating both of them. Crew issues with vaccines, etc.?
  19. Further to your Athens prediction, I just looked at the SD website voyages listings more carefully. The June 26 departure from Athens as of now shows a revised itinerary on the map only (the listed dates and ports haven’t been updated yet). This change must have been made today too since I viewed it yesterday. The major change is dropping Turkey (Kusadasi to see Ephesus) and adding Hydra. There is one other Greek islands substitution. One would think if June 26 was likely to be cancelled the itinerary wouldn’t be modified at the same time the June 16 voyage from Venice was cancelled, instead both would be cancelled. Then again, June 16 from Venice is still listed on the website.
  20. Ho-Hum … missing you, your better half and the Australian gentleman … saw your post on another thread here that June 16 from Venice has cancelled … hope you are right about speculation June 26 from Athens will be start of the summer Med season … any further news you can share will be greatly appreciated, as always.
  21. This is a very, very rough “rule of thumb” because it does vary depending on the season, itinerary, and stateroom deck … but I’ve told others it generally comes out to around $850 US Dollars per person, per night in the Med (the Caribbean is less expensive). As fellow Seadreamers know, this is inclusive of food and beverages, water toys, etc. However, this does not include land excursions, premium wines, spa treatments, WiFi, etc. so one must budget for those charges as well. Concur with Zimmy - we have been on for 13 years over two dozen times and the ships are equally excellent (we too select trips based on itineraries and when we can travel).
  22. Anybody hearing anything one way or the other as to the start of SD voyages in the Med? The present website schedule says the first voyage is June 16 from Venice on SD2 followed by an Athens round trip departing June 26. Not clear how feasible these voyages are given all the known travel restrictions and vaccination challenges for crew and passengers, etc. Hearing all kinds of rumors in both directions - go and no go - so any insights welcome. We’ve been thinking of trying to do something in the Med this summer but want to be smart about it. Thanks in advance for whatever you can share.
  23. Relative to Italy, received emails this weekend from both American and Delta airlines, plus a travel writer in Italy, that those airlines are being allowed to operate and expand quarantine-free flights between the US and Italy. The flights require multiple tests before departure and possibly on arrival in Italy, but are not based on vaccinations. In other words, tests required even if vaccinated. However, there are limits in Italy in terms of curfews and limited restaurant seatings, at least for now.
  24. Like you we are eager to travel - and also like you, we are booked on a fall voyage that includes Italy. We’ve been keeping in touch with airline sources working on these issues around entry/exit requirements. You captured the current state of play snapshot, but this is all in flux and being actively worked on. It is an understatement to say these countries, especially tourist-dependent Italy, are beyond eager to have us visit. Reading these tea leaves isn’t easy by any stretch, but the odds are in our favor. I can’t imagine a scenario likely in which they open to vaccinated persons - but then impose quarantine rules on them. Either they will remain closed - in which case our voyages can’t happen - or Italy and others allow vaccinated travelers to enter/exit without further testing or quarantine. We should know more within the next two weeks.
  25. By all recent accounts I’ve read, Italy and others in the EU are saying if vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine, which covers the USA shots for us, no further testing or quarantine will be required - they know requiring the vaccinated to quarantine would be a big barrier for the very travelers they are eager to have visit them this summer/fall.
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