We've certainly been making an effort to get out in the world and enjoy travel again. We wear masks where indicated, we practice social distancing (we've never liked crowds so that's no problem), and of course we're fully vaccinated and boosted. Still, there are wrinkles and complications as we plan an upcoming transatlantic cruise with Tom and Ellyn followed by a brief tour of a few European countries.
We've been surprised more than once as requirements change. Our cruise on Oceania's Riviera embarks from Miami and makes only one stop at Bermuda before the remainder of the 10 days that sees us landing in Lisbon, Portugal.
It just came to our attention, and to the attention of other cruisers on the Cruise Critic website, that we have to upload a special form that includes both vaccination records and a recent negative Covid test result and pay a $40 fee to Bermuda for the privilege of entering their waters. This applies even if we don't plan to get off the ship. As with previous forms we completed on our Fall 2021 cruise, it has to be uploaded and sent to them within a day or two of our departure. They have just adjusted their rules and now an antigen test is accepted, but even a favorable change can be jarring. So much for a stress-free cruise experience...
Entering Portugal is much simpler.We only have to complete and upload a form within 96 hours before we arrive. After a few days in Portugal we had been planning to fly to France and had our train and hotel reservations all set. Not so fast! We learned through studying the fine print that, not only is a booster shot required, but it must be a messenger RNA vaccine. A couple of us utilized the J&J booster that is not.
We scratch France off the itinerary, appeal for a speedy refund or voucher from TAP Portugal, probably in vain, and plan several additional days in Portugal before flying to Italy (Porto to Milan).
Italy seems straightforward, as does Germany, perhaps less complicated than it was for us to enter Hawaii a few weeks ago (since changed). At the end of our European travels, we'll say our goodbyes to Tom and Ellyn in Germany, and then fly to Italy, where we pick up flights on British Airways that connect at London Heathrow. So far that looks fairly simple as well.
After those two unpleasant surprises regarding travel to Bermuda and especially to France, we're monitoring everything very carefully. As of now, in addition to the cruise line paperwork, we're resigned to filling out anywhere from three to five additional government forms and submitting ourselves to nasal swab tests in Miami before boarding Riviera, and also in Rome before we fly back to the U.S.