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Shore Excursions-Updated on WS Website


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Verbiage recently added to Windstar's Health and Safety section of their website. The CLIA recommendation they refer to aligns with the Conditional Sail Order in effect at least through November 2021.

 

Shore Excursions

All shore excursions will be vetted by our expert team to ensure best practices in health and safety protocols are followed. Shore excursions will operate at a reduced capacity and masks will be worn when according to local regulations and when unable to social distance. For the near term as recommended by the Cruise Lines International Association, guests will need to book a Windstar shore excursion to go ashore. Changes in shore excursions offered may occur due to evolving regulations and conditions in a destination. Tenders, motor coaches and smaller boats will operate at 50 percent capacity and be cleaned between each use. Staggered departures in port will aid in social distancing.

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My assumption is that all of the cruise lines will be doing this for a while. Countries will have their own criteria for entry and they will be able to set policies for groups coming on shore much more easily than hundreds or thousands of individuals.  At some point maybe vaccination passports or something similar but at the start of resumed sailings, I believe they will all be controlled groups only. We'll all have to make our personal decisions about what we are willing to do to travel. 

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I have written an email to WS for clarification on the excursion issue. 
Will post it when I get answers. I agree with SB44 the EU is thinking of vaccine passports, if that is so, I think restrictive excursions will probably not be needed, we hope.  I have read EU airlines are also thinking of a  vaccine passport in order to board. It is all a wait and see. Happy Sailing soon we hope. 

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Strenz said:

I have written an email to WS for clarification on the excursion issue. 
Will post it when I get answers. I agree with SB44 the EU is thinking of vaccine passports, if that is so, I think restrictive excursions will probably not be needed, we hope.  I have read EU airlines are also thinking of a  vaccine passport in order to board. It is all a wait and see. Happy Sailing soon we hope. 

 

 

 

I did an online chat with WS shortly after the original post.  They confirmed that the current intention is to disallow independent excursions for an indefinite period.

I really hope it changes. I had just corresponded before this news with a tour operator we have booked for Bora Bora in early May, and we speculated whether this might happen. She felt that if it did, it would be "another nail in the coffin, perhaps the final nail" for many tour operators in French Polynesia.


 

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The CLIA recommendation for no independent excursions is tied to the CDC Conditional Sail order. Once the CDC is satisfied that cruise lines have met their conditions to safely sail, they’ll likely update the requirement. This is just to get ships on the water again.. Countries may implement vaccine passports for ports of call but if the CDC isn’t satisfied, then one likely won’t be arriving via cruise ship. 

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CDC is an American organization  .... not sure what influence they may have in places like French Polynesia which is governed locally and with French oversite. 

 

What may be a covid problem in certain areas in not a problem in others. LA is a problem  ... living where I do is not a problem at all  ... 

 

The current and limited problems in FP isn't due to travelers coming in via SFO, HNL or LAX. Haven not seen nor read anything along these lines in the local FP newspapers.

 

I have asked a few locals in FP who would know if there are/will be restrictions ... So we shall see ...

Edited by Tahitianbigkahuna
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Yes the CDC is within the US but it’s clear that Windstar has applied the CLIA recommendation (influenced by the CDC) fleetwide/worldwide as has Crystal. Seems to be a choice of the cruise line even though the CDC may not have “jurisdiction” in places like FP or the EU.

 

Hoping for the best! 

Edited by minidonuts85
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1 hour ago, Petoonya said:

@Zukini

Have you made final yet?

 

Windstar extended final to March 5th.  Not sure what we're going to do (assuming the cruise isn't cancelled). We've currently got the obstacles of not being permitted to stay overnight in Los Angeles, the difficulty of getting tested, and now the inability of taking independent excursions. We thought about just postponing the whole trip to May of 2022 (they've now added some added additional 11 day cruises), but the fares have doubled. On the bright side, both my wife and myself will have our 2nd vaccine in the next couple of weeks.

I did notice that the May 6, 2021 is back up for booking on the Windstar site, with availability in all 4 categories, so perhaps they had a significant number of cancellations when final payment originally came due. 

The situation is just so fluid, it's hard to see where things will stand even two weeks from now. 

 

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@Zukini

If you change to May 2022 PUSH IT with Windstar to get the same promotion you got when you originally booked. Talk to a supervisor because paying double is not what you signed up for. I love WS and hate to be another thorn in their side. But please try.

 

You may have to wait until they cancel the cruise to ask for it, but it's surely worth trying. I know it's just not a convenient time for you but sure wish you could do Aug 2022 with a few of us.

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I am booked for May 9. Paid in full. This is a bait and switch policy. I am a dual American French passport holder. My husband and I both vaccinated. I would feel like a hostage. THIS POLICY will discourage new bookings and encourage cancellations. Would or might reconsider if the excursions were free or if they offered free drinks ! Lol ! Otherwise I could cancel get my money back and use my flights to do my own thing. I hope with time; this policy will  be readdressed and changed. They will sail with VERY few people.

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

We applaud WS on insisting anyone onboard be vaccinated. 
We are perplexed that WS would still insist that you must be on a WS excusion  to get off the ship.  If everyone is protected by a vaccine, why would guests be prohibited from going off the ship on their own.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I have taken many WS excursions. They are usually very good. However, I love getting off and doing my own thing. Some of my fondest memories are talking with locals, dining in a local cafe, visiting interesting museums and points of interest at my own pace. Enjoy having time to walk in a town and stop where and when I choose.  I don’t enjoy playing follow the leader in groups.  For now, I will not book WS cruises.  

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Redtravel, I am going to write to WS about the mandatory excursions. My interests are very different than most travelers. I can not stand bus tours and one would think that WS would not like the concept of full busses touring vaccines or not. Makes no sense. Seems to me it is safer for one and all 2 or 4 people and a driver, open windows etc. A walk into the town, or a hike, swim. I too have taken WS excursions but only ones that truly interest me and they were good. I am a slow museum person not there to take selfies and only see a famous painting. I am in a wait and see mode, I really want to go back to the Med. with WS but not if I can not leave the ship unless I am in a group. Scheduled for 9/29 Rome /Malta, Italy, not sure if the cruise will even go with their slow vaccine roll out and the recent uptick in Italy and Europe, it is a wait and see. A lot can change. I do applaud WS and the no vaccine no go. Happy Sailing

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1 hour ago, Strenz said:

Redtravel, I am going to write to WS about the mandatory excursions. My interests are very different than most travelers. I can not stand bus tours and one would think that WS would not like the concept of full busses touring vaccines or not. Makes no sense. Seems to me it is safer for one and all 2 or 4 people and a driver, open windows etc. A walk into the town, or a hike, swim. I too have taken WS excursions but only ones that truly interest me and they were good. I am a slow museum person not there to take selfies and only see a famous painting. I am in a wait and see mode, I really want to go back to the Med. with WS but not if I can not leave the ship unless I am in a group. Scheduled for 9/29 Rome /Malta, Italy, not sure if the cruise will even go with their slow vaccine roll out and the recent uptick in Italy and Europe, it is a wait and see. A lot can change. I do applaud WS and the no vaccine no go. Happy Sailing

I am not surprised at that WS and other cruise lines are trying to protect guests by keeping them close on excursions and on the ship. It reminds me of being locked down last spring.  By insisting that guests must stay onboard or only get off on WS excursions, it limits the pleasures that I enjoy when traveling.  Last week, I canceled a August Oceania cruise in the Med.   The travel restrictions issued by CDC are a good indicator of how things are progressing. Safe traveling internationally is too difficult  now.  When travel is safe, I hope that cruises will be too.  For now, I will look for a summer vacation close to home. 

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Not sure what we’ll do. Some days We just want to get off ship and walk around town. We have the minimum in our November itin and that’s all using credits. But we have travel fever so bad. If Europe opens maybe we’ll just do a land trip this fall. WS tours are mostly fine but the cost does add up and we like days off, but not sitting in board looking at a pretty city and we’ll never experience. 

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WS excursions can be costly compared to private tours.  We are getting slower as we age. We used to be ok keeping up on group tours.  Now we would only get frustrated and we would slow down a tour. We started booking private tours for 2 where and when we want.  Had some fabulous guides in ports.  We get to stop and see what we want. We get to stay or move on as we choose.  Want to take more time in a place. Not a problem. Group tours move on a set time table which doesn’t suit some people.  WS private car tours are priced very high.  I doubt that people book them at their rates. Many people just like to relax and go out in a port when they choose.  in many ports that I have visited previously, I like to eat a leisurely breakfast and then go out on our own.  
we had been thinking about booking Star Breeze in Tahiti for winter 2022.  We love that ship.  Now, we are waiting.

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Posted (edited)

Mrs. Milepig and I talked tonight. The inability to get off board except on a WS tour is a show stopper for us. Hopefully this will change before November. They’re requiring everyone be vaccinated. What’s the issue? Even if we breathe in Covid offshore, we and everyone on board is protected by their vaccine!!

 

and the masks on board inside and out?  Um, everyone is vaccinated!!

Edited by milepig
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I'm hoping, with more data on the vaccine over the next few months, rather Windstar will be able to reconsider and loosen their policy on shore excursions. For example, I read that they found vaccines highly effective in a study where they checked nasal swabs on vaccinated people in high exposure jobs (e.g. health care) once a week to see if they got asymptomatic infections that could spread COVID. 

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0329-COVID-19-Vaccines.html

 

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I'm not sure if the excursion requirement is for Windstar guests or for the local population. Some destinations would like to limit contact between their people and outsiders. Look at the hoops the BVI currently require one to jump through. The vaccination rate is not great in many places.

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@O2B@Cagain

I wrote a week or so ago that one of the independent Tahiti tour providers in Moorea, who has applied for vetting by WS, was told that WS wants to keep it's passengers in a "protective bubble". But like you say, who knows who's trying to protect who.

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11 minutes ago, O2B@Cagain said:

I'm not sure if the excursion requirement is for Windstar guests or for the local population. Some destinations would like to limit contact between their people and outsiders. Look at the hoops the BVI currently require one to jump through. The vaccination rate is not great in many places.

Yea that’s a good point and the BVI is a great example. We just got back from 11 days on Jost Van Dyke and the entry protocols were cumbersome but we missed our friends there and decided to stick it out. It was worth it. While we were there, the Celebrity summer  cruise announcement was released and we attended a govt call with one of our local friends who runs tours. Until at least 70% of the territory is vaccinated, the entry restrictions will not be eased and that goes for cruise pax “bubble” tours as well. They’re at 10%-ish if that gives you an idea of progress. 

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If you can fly into a country before a cruise and go and do whatever you want, what's the point of having to stay in your cruise bubble while ashore on an excursion? You have already been ashore before the cruise sails. This policy is especially ridiculous for a one country cruise like from Papeete where the entire cruise is within French Polynesia.

 

And once people can fly to Europe and do land tours in multiple countries, what's the difference with going ashore on your own in the various countries the European itineraries go to? None of this makes sense. I see it as a money grab by Windstar forcing people to pay twice the price of an excursion for booking on their own versus booking through Windstar. No cruises for me on any line until these bubble excursion requirements are gone.

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