- Tuesday 07 September 2021
Keen to check out how the cruise companies are dealing with the return to holidaying, avid cruiser Michael set off on an island-hopping Greek cruise with NCL:
A couple of weeks ago my son and I flew to Athens from Dublin with Ryanair. I had completed all the FR forms and the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for Greece. I had my Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) on my Covid Tracker App, but also carried my paper certificate.
Departing Dublin Airport was hassle-free and easy; the flight was not full but still very busy. The age profile ranged from young people (sporting their county jerseys) to mature adults. On arrival in Athens I had to produce my passport, my Digital Certificate and my PLF; it was easy and smooth.
We transferred to Piraeus port for our three-night Norwegian Cruise Lines departure onboard the Norwegian Jade. Again we produced our DCC and passport. We also had to undergo a quick Covid test and the results were back in 25 minutes- all passengers had to have the valid DCC and a negative test. All crew on the ship are all vaccinated and undergo regular testing. It was obligatory to wear masks while walking around the ship, but obviously not while in the restaurants, bars or outside. Our cabin was spacious and had a great balcony.
There was great attention to sanitation- tables and bar areas are constantly cleaned and the seating is spaced for social distancing. In the self-service restaurant we had to wash our hands before selecting our food. The various restaurants were different and all excellent... surprisingly not a great fish selection but the steaks were to die for. We didn’t need to upgrade our drinks package as both beer and wine were included. If you're a spirits drinker, then I'd recommend you go with the upgraded drinks package. There was a wide selection of entertainment in various lounges, at the pool and in the theatre.
Our first port of call over the three days was Heraklion on the island of Crete- still full of amazing Minoan architecture and artefacts. Our second stop was the historic island of Rhodes- home to Europe's biggest and best preserved fortified city. Visit the town of Mandraki to see the spot where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood, or the beautiful pedestrian-only town of Lindos. We did our own exploration on both shore trips.
Before disembarking the Norwegian Jade back at Piraeus, all passengers had to undergo another Covid test, and all proved negative. Passengers were not allowed to leave the ship until having the test.
After disembarking we made our way to the island of Poros for four days. It's just an hour's ferry ride from Piraeus to this beautiful little island with its fantastic beaches. There are some great bars, cafes and restaurants here too. We continued on to the island of Aegina for another four days. This idyllic island is full of archaeological sites, elegant buildings and the bustling seafront promenade of Aegina Town.
For an island-hopping holiday it's important to allow yourself an easy trip back to Piraeus and then on to Athens airport (one hour away), in time for your return flight. Aegina was the ideal choice for this. We had to produce our PLF for returning to Dublin and the process was very quick and easy. All in all, I felt very safe on the mini-cruise and would have no hesitation in taking a longer cruise in the Greek Islands. It's also fantastic to combine a cruise with two or more island visits.
We took this Greek holiday with Norwegian Cruise Line, but it's worth saying that the other cruise companies are also taking all of the same precautions and are expecting a quick recovery in cruising numbers. For now, NCL cruise liners will not take more than 75% capacity, and we can check out the specifics of all the cruise companies for you.
Our Cruise Centre (0818 300205) can give you the best advice- our expert, Alan, has taken 17 cruises worldwide. Bookings are open now for the rest this year, 2022 and even 2023. There's great value at the moment as the cruise companies are anxious to build numbers back, and so are offering great discounts.
My final word of advice for future travel is to use a travel agent. I know it’s obvious for a me to say that, but with all the new requirements you can easily miss out and suffer the consequences. Our staff are experienced and up-to-date with all the new guidelines and regulations. Use our years of experience and great connections to ensure your next cruise is the best one yet.