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Barbados summer cruises 2021


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 The change in itinerary is due to the Delta COVID outbreak in the BVI.   Don’t know where it came from as I don’t think the BVI are approved destinations for British tourists.   This new variant is causing huge upsurges in infections and the small Caribbean islands can’t cope with any sort of outbreak.    If you believe the news, the Pfizer vaccine is not as effective against this variant.   You won’t get very sick or sick at all, but you can easily transmit the virus to the unvaccinated on the islands, hence the restrictions.   This has not been a problem on the Greek Islands as they have had more folks vaccinated and better medical facilities.

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12 hours ago, Borna said:

Seabourn just sent me an email stating that there has been a change in the itinerary and we will not visit Jost Van Dyke, BVI, or Tortola, BVI.  Instead, those days will be at sea.  No explanation why.  

 

@Borna Well, things just keep getting worse, eh? 😉  I did not get such an email for our late September cruise, and looking at the Seabourn website, it seems they have dropped those two ports just for the first few cruises. Tortola currently remains on the August 15 cruise and thereafter. I guess they're taking it a few weeks at a time to see if the post closures are short-lived? 

 

I guess this doesn't increase the likelihood of them allowing self-exploration in any of the ports, does it? 😉 

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It keeps getting more "fun" with the Barbados cruises.  The language used by Barbados specifically calls for a RT-PCR Test with the specimen taken by a healthcare provider.  They further say that the lab must be accredited, certified or a recognized facility.  So it got me wondering if Barbados would accept PCR tests done by CVS.  So I did the "bold" thing of getting the Barbados folks into an online chat and asked that specific question.  The response was they they simply cut and pasted the language from their current rules (which I quoted from) without answering my question.  They were either unable or unwilling to give me a firm answer.     The issue is their language requiring a "healthcare provider."  In the world of US healthcare that would normally mean a physician, nurse, hospital, etc.  But does it mean a pharmacy is adequate?  Who knows?

 

Hank

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Yes, the pre-testing requirement poses problems due to timing and worries me.  I'm getting tested (the naseo-- or oral--- required by Barbados) by my doctor on Thursday morning who told me I'd get the results by Friday.  Then, I have to upload those results to the Barbados website to get approval - all in time - to fly out of LA Friday night, arriving in Newark Saturday morning, then flying to Barbados, arriving Saturday night in Barbados.  I also have to upload the results to Seabourn to get the boarding pass I think.  The timing is worrisome.

I'm also going to try to upload the results to St. Lucia website, which has a 5 day window before you arrive.  I'm hopeful I get St. Lucia approval and Seabourn therefore allows self-exploration.  Playing that by ear.  

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Meant to add - In September, I'm going to Africa on another trip that was postponed from last year.  The COVID testing for that trip is even more problematic given it takes so long to get from the USA to Africa.  Geez, what we all do for our wanderlust, LOL.  

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

So it got me wondering if Barbados would accept PCR tests done by CVS.

 

Does CVS administer tests, or are they the ones where they hand you the swab and you insert it in your nose yourself? The self-administered tests are the ones Rite Aid is using -- and clearly aren't accepted by Barbados. I couldn't determine from the CVS website what type of test they administer. I also wasn't sure how quickly one can count on results.

 

@Hlitner TestNowAndGo dot com is  one site I've looked at which might be slightly better for you, Hank; their testing location is in Malvern, PA, which might be a little closer than the one in Maryland you were previously looking at. PCR test results come within 24 hours, they say. And the cost is $100, which I think is less than the other. I have not yet checked with them to see if they are doing the nasopharyngeal test required by Barbados. (Our trip isn't until late September, so I'll get serious about selecting a testing site in about 6 weeks if nothing changes on the Barbados requirement end of things.)  EDIT: I emailed them with the specifics and asked if their testing qualifies.

Edited by cruiseej
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11 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

 

Does CVS administer tests, or are they the ones where they hand you the swab and you insert it in your nose yourself? The self-administered tests are the ones Rite Aid is using -- and clearly aren't accepted by Barbados. I couldn't determine from the CVS website what type of test they administer. I also wasn't sure how quickly one can count on results.

 

@Hlitner TestNowAndGo dot com is  one site I've looked at which might be slightly better for you, Hank; their testing location is in Malvern, PA, which might be a little closer than the one in Maryland you were previously looking at. PCR test results come within 24 hours, they say. And the cost is $100, which I think is less than the other. I have not yet checked with them to see if they are doing the nasopharyngeal test required by Barbados. (Our trip isn't until late September, so I'll get serious about selecting a testing site in about 6 weeks if nothing changes on the Barbados requirement end of things.)

Good tip :).  That is a little closer although it means giving the big bucks to the Turnpike :(.  I cannot tell if their Genetworx Test is a true RT-PCR test that would be acceptable to Barbados.  What troubles me is that they claim to be able to have results within 12 hours and I did not think that was possible with RT-PCR lab work.  Guess we both need to check this out although it might be a challenge to get the answers.   

 

Hank

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24 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

 

Does CVS administer tests, or are they the ones where they hand you the swab and you insert it in your nose yourself? The self-administered tests are the ones Rite Aid is using -- and clearly aren't accepted by Barbados. I couldn't determine from the CVS website what type of test they administer. I also wasn't sure how quickly one can count on results.

I've taken the CVS test a number of time so that I could visit my elderly mother (since deceased) in assisted living.  The CVS test is a drive through test--they hand you a paper bag with the swab and tube and you swab yourself.  You hand it back to them and they send it in for reading.  Back when I was taking this test, you also had a to an appointment for a specific time.  I do not know if that has changed.  

 

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3 minutes ago, SLSD said:

I've taken the CVS test a number of time so that I could visit my elderly mother (since deceased) in assisted living.  The CVS test is a drive through test--they hand you a paper bag with the swab and tube and you swab yourself.  You hand it back to them and they send it in for reading.  Back when I was taking this test, you also had a to an appointment for a specific time.  I do not know if that has changed.  

 

Thanks.  I thought that would be the case.  Like Rite Aid this test apparently does not meet the current Barbados requirement that the sample must be taken by a healthcare provider.

 

Hank

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@Hlitner  Genetworx is a big testing lab. I know they were going to provide testing at a large university near me (many thousands of tests every week) until the school decided to manage their own testing. From their website, it says "GENETWORx Laboratory introduced a 99% accurate COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal test to fight back against the pandemic."   Their lab is in Virginia and they do testing in New York and PA; I'm guessing they drive the tests from their testing sites to the lab each evening and process them overnight. 

 

The Test Now and Go sites are a division of Genetworx, so I'm cautiously optimistic their test may hit the mark. I emailed them the exact language from the Barbados entry requirements document so hopefully they'll reply and tell us if their testing procedure complies.

 

For us, their Malvern location would be about 45 minutes away, so that would be pretty reasonable. They say "COVID-19 PCR results are delivered in 12 hours from collection." That means for our scheduled Friday arrival in Barbados, we could get the test on Wednesday and have the results on Thursday; that's what I want so that in the event our flight is delayed or we miss our connection in Miami, the test results would still be good if we arrive in Barbados a day late on Saturday.

 

Travel planning is wonderful -- just look at how much we're learning! 😉

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23 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

@Hlitner  Genetworx is a big testing lab. I know they were going to provide testing at a large university near me (many thousands of tests every week) until the school decided to manage their own testing. From their website, it says "GENETWORx Laboratory introduced a 99% accurate COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal test to fight back against the pandemic."   Their lab is in Virginia and they do testing in New York and PA; I'm guessing they drive the tests from their testing sites to the lab each evening and process them overnight. 

 

The Test Now and Go sites are a division of Genetworx, so I'm cautiously optimistic their test may hit the mark. I emailed them the exact language from the Barbados entry requirements document so hopefully they'll reply and tell us if their testing procedure complies.

 

For us, their Malvern location would be about 45 minutes away, so that would be pretty reasonable. They say "COVID-19 PCR results are delivered in 12 hours from collection." That means for our scheduled Friday arrival in Barbados, we could get the test on Wednesday and have the results on Thursday; that's what I want so that in the event our flight is delayed or we miss our connection in Miami, the test results would still be good if we arrive in Barbados a day late on Saturday.

 

Travel planning is wonderful -- just look at how much we're learning! 😉

Since you posted I have been doing my own "homework" and looked at their FDA approval document.  It does seem like their test is a true RT-PCR test and their lab is certified so it sounds good.  But we will still follow-up with a call.  For us it is an easier drive (we live right off the Turnpike) and their price is good for a PCR test.

 

Hank

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Also, just as an FYI since it doesn't affect Seabourn's protocols for going ashore, but I noticed that Barbados this week established a "travel bubble" with Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, Montserrat, Bonaire, St. Eustasius and Saba, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, and Bermuda. Fully vaccinated travelers with a valid pre-flight PCR test are no longer required to do a secondary test upon arrival in Barbados. That could pave the way for the US to be added, but the way things are trending in the US, that might not be likely. 

 

Also of possible interest to Canadian and European travelers is that Barbados now states explicitly that they will accept mixed vaccine regimens (e.g. one shot on one vaccine and a second shot of a different vaccine) are considered full vaccinated.

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@Hlitner  I received a response from TestNowAndGo to my emailed questions about their testing:

 

1. We use a nasopharyngeal swab

2. Our test results are available no more than 24 hours after collection

3. Our lab is CLIA and CAP certified to conduct high complexity molecular tests

 

I was hoping they would say, "yes, we meet the Barbados requirements," but I guess they're a testing company and don't want to keep up with every country's changing entry requirements or make a statement which would imply a guarantee. But as best I can tell, they meet the Barbados requirements. Let me know if you do more research or find out anything more or different from them.

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14 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

@Hlitner  I received a response from TestNowAndGo to my emailed questions about their testing:

 

1. We use a nasopharyngeal swab

2. Our test results are available no more than 24 hours after collection

3. Our lab is CLIA and CAP certified to conduct high complexity molecular tests

 

I was hoping they would say, "yes, we meet the Barbados requirements," but I guess they're a testing company and don't want to keep up with every country's changing entry requirements or make a statement which would imply a guarantee. But as best I can tell, they meet the Barbados requirements. Let me know if you do more research or find out anything more or different from them.

I called them this morning, got an answering machine, and left a message for them to call me back.  So I will likely hear from them sometime next week.   As we both know, Barbados uses the terminology of "RT-PCR" test.   While that is a molecular test, all molecular tests do not necessarily meet the RT-PCR definition.  And Barbados specifically excludes fast PCR tests (I guess the so-called LAMP test falls into that category).   My gut tells me that the testing done by TestNOWandGo does meet the Barbados requirement as long as one would have the nasal swab done at their site.  But I hate to depend on my "gut" with this much at stake.   I also suspect when I get them on the phone I will not get anything more then you got from e-mail.  

 

As this point I am inclined to agree with you that they meet Barbados requirements and we are likely to use their Malvern collection site.  I will post here if and when I learn anything else when I get them on the phone.

 

Hank

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I wanted to loop back and bring closure to my gripe earlier in this thread about Seabourn adding $1,000 per person air credits for new Caribbean cruise bookings but not allowing us to receive those savings. The issue was wrapped up in air being separate from the cruise booking, and penalties required for canceling and rebooking air.

 

Seabourn originally offered us an upgrade to an identical veranda suite on a higher deck; to us the high deck was actually less convenient than our Deck 6 location, even though the retail value of a suite  on a higher deck is undoubtedly higher. With persistence from me and my travel agent, we arrived at what I'm considering a satisfactory resolution: we keep our original suite, and instead receive a significantly higher onboard credit. While the credits aren't as much as the air credits would have been on a new booking, or the retail price of a Deck 10 suite, it's enough to pay for our shore excursions and then some. So I feel they made a genuine effort to meet us partway, and I'm happy to put a pin in this issue. 😉

 

To anyone else who booked in the past few months, before the air credits were introduced, it can't hurt to try to see what Seabourn will do for you. You won't likely get $2,000 back if you've already paid or are into the penalty period, but you might get something of reasonable vale to you. 

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Hi cruiseej.   I booked with platinum amex and received double the $150 shipboard credit to $300.  I called sb about the new $500 credit and was told sb increased the cruise price before offering the higher $500 credit.  The increase in cruise price is more than the additional $200 credit.    Any tips in getting more credit, particularly since we now must take sb excursions?   Thx for your knowledge.  

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13 hours ago, Borna said:

Hi cruiseej.   I booked with platinum amex and received double the $150 shipboard credit to $300.  I called sb about the new $500 credit and was told sb increased the cruise price before offering the higher $500 credit.  The increase in cruise price is more than the additional $200 credit.    Any tips in getting more credit, particularly since we now must take sb excursions?   Thx for your knowledge.  

 

@Borna For our cruise, the selling price for a V3 suite has not changed between when we booked on June 2 and today (July 18): $3,899, less 5% Seabourn Club discount. Perhaps they increased the rate for certain suite levels, but not for ours?

 

For us, the big different between early June and now was the addition of a $1,000 per person air credit per guest, in addition to $200 extra onboard credit. We had chosen to book our air through Seabourn due to the potential for last minute changes, and it cost about $800 per person for our coach tickets; Seabourn's price was only $18 per ticket more than if I purchased them myself via American Airlines.  I checked the current air price after noticing the $1,000 air credit offer, and the price for our tickets had gone up to $1,001 -- so the Seabourn credit would have almost fully covered out air. But Seabourn stated that we couldn't cancel and rebook without incurring a penalty since we were under 120 days. (It was a surprise to discover that the "Worry Free Promise", which allows cancellation anytime prior to 30 days before sailing apparently does not apply to air.) My position was that booking the cruise now would cost us $1,600 less for the air and would add $200 in onboard credit, an $1,800 advantage to someone who booked late versus us who booked early. I knew it was unlikely that Seabourn would just give us the $1,800, but I felt they should do something.

 

They apparently agreed, and offered us an upgrade from our V3 to a V6 suite -- which is a $900 per person difference, or $1,800 in value (ignoring Seabourn Club and Future Cruise Deposit discounts). On a ship that's not sold out, that's a clever move by them, as it costs them nothing. But we felt the move to an identical suite on a higher deck was of little value to us; in fact, we preferred our location on Deck 6 to some of the available V6 locations on upper decks. So I asked our TA to go back to Seabourn again to request additional onboard credit rather than a suite upgrade. My TA and I agreed they wouldn't add an equivalent $1,800 in OBC, but we ended up with an additional $1,000 in OBC, and I considered that a reasonable resolution. (Our TA thought they intended to give us $500 in total, but ended up posting $500 per person to our booking; whether intentional or error in our favor, the $1,000 extra in OBC was satisfactory to me.) Now we can book the $400 off-road excursion in Antigua we hesitated to book previously. 😉

 

I think you're probably in a tougher bargaining position, in that you're about to leave for your trip, but it still might be worth talking to your TA or Seabourn rep about receiving some additional OBC as compensation for not receiving the recently-added inducements. If you booked your air through Seabourn as we did, I think you've got a case to be made; if you booked your air independently, it might be harder to get them to see that you lost out. As for the claim that they increased the price of the cruise fare before adding the new offers, I suggest you check that; I just looked up the July 25 cruise, and it has the same fares as ours. If you had a lower fare when you booked, then their explanation makes some sense; if your fare matches the current selling price on the website, then their explanation doesn't hold water. It can't hurt to go back and make your case for more credit; the worst they can do is say no. 😉 

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On 7/17/2021 at 10:12 AM, cruiseej said:

@Hlitner  I received a response from TestNowAndGo to my emailed questions about their testing:

 

1. We use a nasopharyngeal swab

2. Our test results are available no more than 24 hours after collection

3. Our lab is CLIA and CAP certified to conduct high complexity molecular tests

 

I was hoping they would say, "yes, we meet the Barbados requirements," but I guess they're a testing company and don't want to keep up with every country's changing entry requirements or make a statement which would imply a guarantee. But as best I can tell, they meet the Barbados requirements. Let me know if you do more research or find out anything more or different from them.

This would be good info for anyone within shouting distance of Malvern (Philadelphia).  I just got off the telephone with Jillian who works for the TestNowAndGo folks.  She told me that their test is a RT-PCR test and should be fine for Barbados although she cautioned that they also tell everyone to check with their airline for any rules imposed by specific airlines.  Jillian also said that their turn around time on the PCR test is no more then 24 hours.  Her other advice was to check again closer to the actual date of the test and make sure to make an appointment.  So I guess this does resolve an issue for Cruiseej and myself (and anyone else in that area).

 

Hank

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Love to hear from anyone on the first Barbados cruise (July 18-25).  Love to hear about the on arrival COVID test in Barbados, the actual time it took to receive the results, whether you were able to visit any island(s) freely or had to take Seabourn excursions, etc.  

Before discovering Cruisecritic recently, are there any other websites where Seabourn's current cruisers might report?

Thanks.  I'm leaving Friday July 23 for Barbados to start the 14 day July 25 - August 8 Seabourn Barbados cruise.

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2 minutes ago, Borna said:

Love to hear from anyone on the first Barbados cruise (July 18-25).  Love to hear about the on arrival COVID test in Barbados, the actual time it took to receive the results, whether you were able to visit any island(s) freely or had to take Seabourn excursions, etc.  

Before discovering Cruisecritic recently, are there any other websites where Seabourn's current cruisers might report?

Thanks.  I'm leaving Friday July 23 for Barbados to start the 14 day July 25 - August 8 Seabourn Barbados cruise.

You can check for two different Seabourn Facebook groups.  One is called Seabourn Sailors and the other is called Seabourn Friends and Family.  There are regular reports on both of those pages, including photos.  

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@2seabournsailors Really? I have only seen a thread of lots of people wishing crews and passengers  onboard bon voyage and best wishes. Only one person replied that they were on board, but didn't post anything more than that. Is there an actual report in that group from someone onboard? I wish Facebook gave you a way to see comments you haven't read in chronological order, like here on Cruise Critic, but alas that's not how Facebook works. I find it much harder to follow the Facebook groups for that reason. 

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