Budget Slow Travel

By Patrick Robertson

The pandemic was declared in March 2019 and everything shut down very quickly. Once the vaccine was created, administered and numbers began to decrease, non-essential travel slowly opened up.

We took our first month long trip in November 2021, 18 months after the pandemic was declared. Non-essential travel opened up for within B.C. We did a driving trip around B.C. visiting family and friends. We felt safe.

In February, non-essential vehicle travel to the USA opened up and we travelled for a month through the southwestern states. We felt safe.

The next step in ramping up our travel in the time of Covid was to get on a plane.

An enclosed area for five hours with 300 strangers all breathing the same air. In April we flew with Westjet to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and felt safe. We stayed at a resort and felt safe. So far, so good. We had covered the basic modes of travel. There was only one more to try; a cruise.

We have been on many cruises over the years but had never done the Alaska cruise. We had talked about it for years but were always busy during the cruising season. This year was different. We had sold our houseboat after 21-years so we were no longer handcuffed to it cleaning it, maintaining it and living on it from June to September.

As it turns out, we have to travel to Vernon for family in June. As we would be halfway to the coast, I thought, what the heck, I’ll check out my favourite discount cruise booking site.

The Alaska cruises in June are up to 85% of brochure price. Holland America was offering a window cabin for $750 per person all in for the seven-day cruise. I called to book the cabin and we upgraded to a balcony cabin for $950. It is a great price for a week-long cruise.

Our cabin is on the starboard side on the best deck at the stern. On an Alaskan cruise, this is the best place to see all the sites of the inside passage. We don’t normally book balcony cabins. But, this time we took a balcony in case we were caught up in a situation where the ship was quarantined and we were confined to our cabins.

At least we would have a balcony to escape to. We would go crazy if we had to spend two weeks inside a 250 sq. ft. cabin.

We got a bad flu once on a plane ride to Krabi, Thailand and spent five days in our room eating Lipton’s chicken noodle soup and watching the Hallmark Channel on Youtube. It was horrible. Sick, no energy, sneezing, sleeping off and on all day long, and watching Hallmark movies. The one saving grace was we had our own private pool outside our sliding glass doors. We would not do well quarantined to our small cabin on a ship. The extra charge was worth it.

To board the ship you must show proof of full vaccination, have a viral test done within two days of boarding, and have your temperature taken. Masks are recommended but not mandatory.

We selected ‘Anytime Dining’ for two so that we will not be seated with a bunch of other people even though we love sitting in a group of six for the dinner conversation. We will be wearing our masks at any shows that we attend or any other place where there will be a lot of people.

The cruise is the final test for us for open travel. I will give you a full rundown next month. Wish us luck.

Photo submitted

– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and long-time resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Go to his website for more information and pictures of this trip to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.

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