Cruise check-in during times of COVID…Bermuda crazies…

Our balcony cabin while still in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Note; The WiFi aboard the ship is very slow. At this point, we aren’t able to add many photos. We will try to do so for tomorrow’s post late tonight or early tomorrow morning when fewer passengers are online.

By the time we arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, it was close to noon. The drive went quickly, especially when we entertained ourselves by making a list of every cruise we had taken since we began this journey 9½ years ago. As it turned out, this is cruise #25! Tom remembered every cruise. In a few days, we’ll post the list.

For some reason, I’d thought this was #27, but over the years, there were approximately eight cruises that were canceled, only three of which we chose to cancel; two of which we canceled due to my heart surgery in 2019, and one, that we canceled recently, when the itinerary changed from Russia and Ukraine to areas we weren’t interested in visiting at the high cost of the cruise.

Here we are, perfectly content on the Celebrity Silhouette, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, currently sitting at Cafe al Bacio enjoying tasty, frothy mugs of Caramel Macchiato (mine is sugar-free decaf, using real cream, not milk). Delicious!

We were shocked by the easy check-in process. Once we dropped off the luggage at the port and then dropped off the rental car and made it back to the port by taxi, it was 1:30 pm. We produced our ID and cruise confirmation on our phone, and we were asked an important question, “Did we have the approved Bermuda Authorization form?”

Immediately, we provided our authorization approval on my phone, both of which came through on Thursday night while still at Karen and Rich’s house, just in time for Friday’s cruise. I hadn’t mentioned much about this form when we were worried it wouldn’t get approved in time for the four final days in Apollo Beach. What was this form all about?

It was a recently required visa and health document that Bermuda imposed on all visitors to their country, requiring a $40 fee for each applicant. They designed this process to reduce some of the country’s losses due to the loss of visitors during the pandemic.

The painstaking process of completing and submitting this mandatory document was awful, with slow response times, login issues, and general website glitches. I thought we’d never get it done and approved. When we hadn’t heard back since our initial submission on Tuesday, I sent an email with all of our attached documents once again, requesting they speed it up.

Celebrity stated that if a passenger didn’t have this form approved by the time of boarding, the passenger(s) would be denied entry to the cruise. As it turned out, Bermuda couldn’t keep up with the processing of over 2000 forms that couldn’t be finalized until after each passenger submitted a negative Covid test which couldn’t be done more than two days before departure. What a mess!

Finally, our approval came through after sending the email. We found out that many passengers didn’t get the approval in time. Celebrity decided to let them board, but they probably won’t be able to get off the ship in Bermuda, our first of very few ports of call.

Once we entered the cruise terminal, it took no more than 10 minutes for us to be checked in and make our way to the ship. In the “old days” before Covid, champagne (sparkling wine) was served upon boarding. But, that is no more. But. we were thrilled to be on the ship.

We were told our room keys were in the mail slot outside the door to our room. Neither key worked and our excellent cabin steward, Push, took the keys to the front desk while we waited for him to return with two working key cards. The line at the customer service desk required a two-hour wait when hundreds of passengers’ key cards also didn’t work. All we had to do was ask.

Immediately, we got the WiFi working which was included in the cost of our fare, by using a barcode sign in our cabin. In no time at all, we were online. However, this morning, I decided to check our account on the TV to see we were charged almost $400 for WiFi. I called customer service to get this resolved, and it was promptly removed from the bill. Also, two drink packages and tips were also included in our fare.

Our bags came to our cabin, and before we left for dinner, we had unpacked and felt content and settled, knowing we’d certainly enjoy the upcoming 13 nights.

Tonight we will be having dinner with a lovely couple who approached us after breakfast, saying they knew us from our blog. How fun is that! They had been reading and found they were sailing on the same cruise and looked forward to meeting us. Of course, as always, we are flattered during such encounters, if not a little shy about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back sharing the Covid protocol on the ship, some expected and some surprising. We’ll see you then!

Be well, and thanks for sailing along with us!!!

Photo from one year ago today, April 9, 2021:

“This is a good place to rest my head.” For more photos, please click here.