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Barbados summer cruises 2021


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We got our testing done yesterday, and the tubes were *supposed* to be overnighted to the lab in Virginia arriving this morning.  Per the FedEx tracking number, the package is still in Memphis and won't be delivered to the lab until tomorrow morning.  I called the testing company, who assures me we'll have our test results by late tomorrow afternoon.  Fingers crossed.

 

I've done everything on the BIMSafe app except our test results.   I just hope I get them before Saturday morning!

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@SDuckers  Ugh! Sorry to hear of the glitch in your testing. Hopefully it will all fall into place over the next day.

 

Some gallows humor here, but if you want something else to worry about instead of your test results... 😉

 

Follow along on the progress of Tropical Storm Sam, currently midway between Africa and South America. It's forecast to develop into a major force hurricane by Sunday as it tracks to the west toward the Caribbean. The current track seems to have it curving enough to the north to hopefully avoid the Windward and Leeward islands where we will (hopefully!) be cruising next week.

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1 hour ago, cruiseej said:

 

I was prepared to do it on both our phons, but it easily allowed me to add a family member, so I ended up doing it on just my phone. You don't ned to show your phone for the test; just your ID or a printout of your test payment from TravelNowAndGo.

 

I had some fights with the Aura app. 😉 It might be a short-term glitch, but the startup screen didn't fit on the phone screen. Maybe someone was testing it for an iPhone 13 Max.  I couldn't get to the button to create a new login. I eventually was able to click on the login via Gmail button and got in. There were some other glitches once I entered my information. It showed my middle name as "Null". (This is fixed now.) My birthday showed correctly on the profile screen, but incorrectly on the edit profile screen. Worse, when I tried to edit my account info, no matter what I entered, when I clicked the Submit button, it would say "City is required". Of course, the city existed. No amount of things I tried for the city worked, so I couldn't edit my info. I reached out to Aura support twice, and got pretty quick and helpful replies. In short, I'd say that if things look right on your profile page, don't click edit to tweak or add additional info. Again, these may have been temporary glitches. 

 

..............................

Thanks for the update.  We have exactly the same issues with the Aura app with "null" for middle name and the need city thing :).   I like what you did with the pdf file and we will likely follow your lead.  My only concern with that app is we would prefer to have our middle names show on our test results page since that would match our Passports.   We will be boarding the ship the same day you disembark so I guess we will not meet on this trip.   Thanks again for posting the info and for the tip about using that Malvern test site.

 

Hank

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53 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

@SDuckers  Ugh! Sorry to hear of the glitch in your testing. Hopefully it will all fall into place over the next day.

 

Some gallows humor here, but if you want something else to worry about instead of your test results... 😉

 

Follow along on the progress of Tropical Storm Sam, currently midway between Africa and South America. It's forecast to develop into a major force hurricane by Sunday as it tracks to the west toward the Caribbean. The current track seems to have it curving enough to the north to hopefully avoid the Windward and Leeward islands where we will (hopefully!) be cruising next week.

I saw a reference to that storm on the news this morning, but most forecasts seem to have it turning north and being just a "fish storm."  Let's hope so!

 

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1 hour ago, Hlitner said:

My only concern with that app is we would prefer to have our middle names show on our test results page since that would match our Passports.

 

You can reach out to the Aura tech support folks. They were pretty responsive to my two messages. Ours ended up not having our middle names, but it doesn't matter because...

 

I just received emails from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Barbados informing us that our PCR tests certificates have been approved. Yay, another hurdle successfully cleared!

 

Now we just need our flight from PHL to MIA to be on time early tomorrow morning, because we have a pretty tight connection (50 minutes) in Miami. Since I try to plan one step ahead of a potential problem, I just went to look to see what other airlines might have a later flight from MIA to Barbados tomorrow. Answer: none. No other flights at all. Gulp. In fact, the only flights from anywhere in the US to Barbados tomorrow are ours and one Jet Blue flight from JFK. I don't think I realized how few flights there are between the US and Barbados. At least it won't be too busy at customs and immigration and getting our arrival Covid test! And I'm choosing to believe the air gods are smiling at us, because we arrive in Miami at gate D16 and depart from gate D15. 😉 

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36 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

 

You can reach out to the Aura tech support folks. They were pretty responsive to my two messages. Ours ended up not having our middle names, but it doesn't matter because...

 

I just received emails from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Barbados informing us that our PCR tests certificates have been approved. Yay, another hurdle successfully cleared!

 

Now we just need our flight from PHL to MIA to be on time early tomorrow morning, because we have a pretty tight connection (50 minutes) in Miami. Since I try to plan one step ahead of a potential problem, I just went to look to see what other airlines might have a later flight from MIA to Barbados tomorrow. Answer: none. No other flights at all. Gulp. In fact, the only flights from anywhere in the US to Barbados tomorrow are ours and one Jet Blue flight from JFK. I don't think I realized how few flights there are between the US and Barbados. At least it won't be too busy at customs and immigration and getting our arrival Covid test! And I'm choosing to believe the air gods are smiling at us, because we arrive in Miami at gate D16 and depart from gate D15. 😉 

Thanks again.  We faced a similar situation trying to fly from BWI to Barbados on AA.  We would have had about 40 min to change at MIA and we also noted there were no later flights.  Since we are flying-in 4 days before the cruise our concern was not missing the ship but losing a full day at Sandals.  So we decided to book the Jetblue flight out of JFK.  I truly hate driving to JFK (not to mention the expense of a hotel and parking) but did like the idea that it is a non-stop flight.  The downside is that the Jetblue flight doesn't get into Barbados to around 3:30 pm and the return flight doesn't depart to 5pm.  On the other hand, the Jetblue fare was hundreds less then the AA flights so that subsidized our extra parking cost at JFK.  There is a good side to all this because there is an Italian restaurant in Queens (only a few miles from JFK) that we have wanted to try for years.

 

Hank

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Keeping fingers crossed.  The lab has our testing kits and has told us they should have our results by 3 pm.  We only just found out that American Airlines apparently won't even let us on the 6:15 pm flight from Houston to Miami tonight if we don't have the results in hand, even though we don't fly to Barbados until tomorrow morning.   This timeline is making me twitch.

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Sarah, I'm so happy to hear you got your test results just in time! I hope alll goes smoothly for your travel to Barbados tomorrow. 

 

We made it from Philadelphia to Miami to Barbados today, and with all the advance planning, everything went very smoothly. I'll share a few details for those who are flying to Barbados in the future.

 

American Airlines has partnered with an app called VeriFly, and if you upload everything to them -- including a picture of yourself, vaccine card and test results -- then the airline doesn't;t need to check those documents when you check in. The American representative at check-in had a big smile and thanked me profusely for using VeriFly; it makes their job much easier and faster. So for us, VeriFly was a clear-cut winner.

 

Interestingly, even though our passports had been checked when we checked in and dropped our luggage,  and even though the first leg of our trip was domestic, I heard my name being called at the gate -- they had to check our passports and write "OK" in red marker on the boarding passes. Why this couldn't/didn't happen at the initial check-in, when the representative printed those same boarding passes, I don't know. 

 

We had a completely full flight to Miami; departed on time and arrived on time. As of yesterday and this morning, our arrival gate from Philly was just a gate or two from our departure gate to Barbados -- which was good considering we had only 49 minutes between flights. I had looked at an airport map and decided where I was going to buy some sandwiches or snacks for the flight. I should have known I was too prepared... when we landed in Miami, we had been switched to a gate 25 gates farther away. By the time we could get off the first plane, we had a pretty brisk walk to make it to our gate for Barbados, with a quick bathroom stop but no food. (I'm not sure if it would have been faster or slower to take the escalator up two levels to get the skytrain to cut out about 20 of those gates.) As we approached the departure gate, I hear my name being called again, along with "final boarding call", even though we were 20+ minutes before departure. When I ran the last 100 yards to the gate to say my wife was coming shortly behind, I asked why final boarding was so early. "Oh, it's not really final, but you were the last two." Gee, thanks for making me run. 😉 In fact, another couple came running on close to 10 minutes later; they too arrived at a far-away gate with an even shorter connection than ours and had to run the whole way; in their case, the door was being closed, and flight attendant said if they had been 30 seconds later, it would have been too late. Nothing like running through airports to get the blood pumping in the morning!

 

Bonus #1: The flight to Barbados was only about half full. Being able to spread out on a plane was always nice; in the mask-wearing Covid era, it's even nicer! Bonus #2: as we were buckling in, I asked my wife to raise the window shade, and we were able to see our luggage just going onto the plane. American also does real-time tracking of your luggage in their app, so I saw the status change from "unloaded in Miami" to "loaded in Miami" as we watched it go up the belt into the belly of the plane. Nothing can sour a "just barely made my flight" story than "but my luggage didn't." Of course, the downside of having your luggage loaded last on the plane is that it's the first off the plane -- placing it at the bottom of the luggage cart and making it among the last pieces of luggage to come out at your destination. If you know with certainty your luggage made the flight, as we did, this is just a minor inconvenience; it you don't, it can be the source of significant anxiety in the baggage clam area. 

 

After an uneventful flight to Barbados, we were smacked by the heat and humidity -- worse than normal, we were later told by multiple Bajans -- as we got off the plane and walked down the stairs. (No jetways.) After a very short shuttle bus ride to the terminal, we met our Fast Track representative.

 

We first had to go to a short line to have our vaccine status and negative pre-departure test results checked. Show the BIMSafe app QR code for that, I asked? Nope. They wanted our paperwork. I don't know why. Then on to a short line to get our nasal swab. Fast and easy. Then we had to fill out a paper with our info and answer how long we were staying and where we were staying. On the plane, the flight attendants told us to fill these our only if we hadn't used the BIMSafe app and didn't have a QR code to show. Wrong, apparently. Sigh.

 

Then on to customs and immigration. Show the BIMSafe app QR code here, I asked? Nope, we had to hold up, then scan, our passports for the agent, and then hold up the Barbados Customs Online ED Form Receipt -- then one with the QR code... which he didn't actually scan. Then, because we said we were staying for two days and then going on a cruise, he wanted to see some proof of the cruise; the first thing I pulled out of my bag was my printed luggage tags for the Odyssey. "Ah, Seabourn Odyssey" and he was satisfied without seeing our boarding pass or any other document. ("That's strange that he asked to see that," said our Fast Track representative.) 

 

Then it was on to baggage claim, where we had our first real wait for the reasons stated above. Finally, our Fast Track representative led us out to the curb to the taxi stand, where a dispatcher assigned us to a cab. Taxis in Barbados don't have meters, and don't take credit cards. But all rates from the airport are fixed and listed on a wall chart (and also on the Barbados airport website). Our hotel (The Crane) is closer to the airport than most, and the cab ride was only $31 Barbados ($15.50 US) . That was a lot better than the rates given by our hotel and several tour/transportation companies I had checked out. 

 

All told, it was about 45 minutes from touching down in Barbados to pulling out of the airport in our taxi., which was great. If we wouldn't have had to wait to be among the last bags at baggage claim, it would have probably been only 30 minutes.

 

And for all the fuss everyone make about the BIMSafe app, in our case, it was never once looked at or used. Go figure. 

 

I wasn't sure whether it was worth the cost for the Fast Track service, but having the person guide us from pace to place and avoid certain lines felt helpful enough that I'd recommend it. If you're the only plane arrival, and your plane isn't full, it may not be worth it; but you could also arrive just after a jumbo jet and have it save you a lot of time. That's a roll of the dice, but I will say it did take away any stress or confusion about where to go and what to do, which would not have been apparent.

 

The Crane Resort has very nice grounds; I'm glad we redeemed Hilton points here rather than at the Barbados Hilton. I had upgraded our room slightly to a king suit oceanview, and the room is very nice and  huge (including two bathrooms, both with showers, a large living room, dining area, and full kitchen). After just an average dinner tonight, tomorrow we plan to sit at the pool and await our test results. The next day, it's on to the Odyssey!

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The results from the Covid test we took at the airport upon arrival yesterday arrived via email at around 11 am today -- about 20 hours from test to result. As Southwest Airlines used to say, we are now free to move about the country. 😉

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On 9/24/2021 at 4:08 PM, robertmartha said:

SDuckers - safe travels! Please post if you can! Would luv to hear about your sailing !

 

Bob in NY

We made it here safely yesterday. Like @cruiseeej, all the work we put into uploading everything to the BIMsafe app was a complete waste of time.  No one ever looked at it.  And we kept trying to show the QR code! Highly recommend having paper copies of your Barbados entry documents and pcr test results. 
 

also at every step along the way as you are processing into the country, people come up and spray your hands with sanitizer. Whether you want it or not.  this is a challenge if you’re trying to juggle your cell phone, passport, and three documents, etc!  
 

we are also staying at the Crane resort, and elected to have our testing done here.  We got our tests done about 130 yesterday afternoon, and had a negative test results by about 5:00. 
 

our room was not ready when we got here after two. We were only able to get into our room about 345.  The room is lovely, although when we first checked in the air conditioning wasn’t working. They got that fixed pretty promptly.

 

while we were waiting for our room to be ready, we went to the 1887 bar for a specialty cocktail and a snack. Really don’t recommend that place at all.  Cocktails were meh, and the “fish cake” tapa was awful.  Really more like hush puppies with hardly any fish at all.  Service was poor.

Other than the hotel rooms, nothing is air conditioned.  Mid day, it’s a little uncomfortable even in the shade. 

 

dinner last night at La Azure was pretty good.  Very fresh fish nicely prepared. Breakfast this morning was ok.  We didn’t want the buffet so had to wait quite a while for our food.  

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Enjoy the ship, guys. We just got off this morning, heading back to the real world. Seabourn has us at the Hilton for lunch before heading to the airport. 

 

Just unreal being on a ship like the Odyssey at 25% capacity. Amazing! 

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hi all

 

I'm sure this has been discussed quite a bit so my apologies ahead of time.  I understand that we need our original vax card, but what "original proof of documentation" are they referring to here?

 

BIMSafe: Prior to traveling, guests must complete and upload the required documentation in the BIMSafe app, which can be downloaded from www.visitbarbados.org. Guests should upload required documentation within 72 hours prior to travel and no less than 24 hours before travel. Ministry of Health personnel will validate information upon flight arrival, so please bring original proof of documentation with you. The information provided will be subject to their data privacy policies.

 

thanks

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18 hours ago, Travels with Lisa said:

I understand that we need our original vax card, but what "original proof of documentation" are they referring to here?

We traveled with our CDC vaccination cards, as well as photocopies.  We showed the original cards when we arrived in Barbados, but we had backups just in case

 

Honestly, the arrival process was rather bizarre, and I can't say I fully understood what was going on at each step.  But I'll share what I remember from our arrival last week...

 

Step 1 - Covid check just inside the terminal.  Seabourn expediters took us aside from the regular queue, and we showed passport, vaccine card, and PCR results.  Since we were day-of-cruise arrivals, we were given a yellow wristband that we were "in transit" to the ship, and then taken down the corridor by our Seabourn handlers to the next step.

 

Step 2 - Someone with a tablet entered/verified our names, passports, the ship we were in transit to, and the dates of our PCR test results.  Maybe this was linked up with our BIMSafe entered data, but they did not scan our QR codes. I don't remember showing vaccine cards again at this point.  Then, it was a long (outdoor breezeway) walk to the far end of the terminal for actual immigration, again led by our Seabourn handlers.

 

Step 3 - Here we were taken to a side line, not the main queue.  At immigration, the officer is behind glass, masked, and you can barely understand what they're asking you to do.  Watch the people that go ahead of you.  You hold your passport and immigration QR code (my wife prepared these ahead of time) up to the glass for them to scan.  They ask you to pull down your mask to see our face, then let you through to baggage claim.

 

Once we claimed all of the group's bags, Seabourn handlers walked us out, made arrangements with the taxi dispatcher, and handed us off.  We were taken directly to the ship, without regard to boarding time.

 

At the port, you will meet with the Seabourn doctor during check-in.  In addition to passports, I believe they they verified either our vaccine status or PCR results.  Then we were administered a rapid covid test, and sat in a holding area for ~15 minutes until we were cleared to board.

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15 minutes ago, jeffbrig said:

We traveled with our CDC vaccination cards, as well as photocopies.  We showed the original cards when we arrived in Barbados, but we had backups just in case

 

Honestly, the arrival process was rather bizarre, and I can't say I fully understood what was going on at each step.  But I'll share what I remember from our arrival last week...

 

Step 1 - Covid check just inside the terminal.  Seabourn expediters took us aside from the regular queue, and we showed passport, vaccine card, and PCR results.  Since we were day-of-cruise arrivals, we were given a yellow wristband that we were "in transit" to the ship, and then taken down the corridor by our Seabourn handlers to the next step.

 

Step 2 - Someone with a tablet entered/verified our names, passports, the ship we were in transit to, and the dates of our PCR test results.  Maybe this was linked up with our BIMSafe entered data, but they did not scan our QR codes. I don't remember showing vaccine cards again at this point.  Then, it was a long (outdoor breezeway) walk to the far end of the terminal for actual immigration, again led by our Seabourn handlers.

 

Step 3 - Here we were taken to a side line, not the main queue.  At immigration, the officer is behind glass, masked, and you can barely understand what they're asking you to do.  Watch the people that go ahead of you.  You hold your passport and immigration QR code (my wife prepared these ahead of time) up to the glass for them to scan.  They ask you to pull down your mask to see our face, then let you through to baggage claim.

 

Once we claimed all of the group's bags, Seabourn handlers walked us out, made arrangements with the taxi dispatcher, and handed us off.  We were taken directly to the ship, without regard to boarding time.

 

At the port, you will meet with the Seabourn doctor during check-in.  In addition to passports, I believe they they verified either our vaccine status or PCR results.  Then we were administered a rapid covid test, and sat in a holding area for ~15 minutes until we were cleared to board.

Thank you!  I'm assuming a print out of your digital test results will suffice?

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6 hours ago, jscheff said:

Does anyone know how many guests are on board Odyssey this week?

Would also be interested to know this figure and for the 2 weeks from 10th Oct as we are boarding Odyssey on that date.

Steve & Gail

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We board Oct. 17 for two weeks.  It sounds like the ship is filling up.

 

I have searched this thread but have not found any mention about formal nights.  Are people dressing up for them?

 

Thank you!

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37 minutes ago, bahalter said:

We are on the 10/10 sailing- there’s 10 of us coming- also curious to see how many are onboard- getting so excited!!

See you on board bahalter. Be so good to be back on Seabourn. We have also booked again for the holiday cruise 18th December again on the Odyssey . Safe travels to you all.

Steve & Gail

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3 hours ago, GrandCru said:

It sounds like the ship is filling up.

 

I have searched this thread but have not found any mention about formal nights.  Are people dressing up for them?

 

On our cruise last week, I was speaking with the cruise director, and he said numbers are ticking up in October.  By month's end, they have a sailing with close to 300 passengers on board.

 

Yes, people are still dressed up for formal nights.   I saw anything from a sport coat w/no tie, to white dinner jackets and bow ties.

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We just got off the Odyssey on Sunday. There were 113 passengers aboard last week's cruise; I heard it is slightly lower (in the 90's) this week. But as mentioned above, they have bookings in November -- the traditional start of the Caribbean cruise season -- getting up to around 300.

 

(The Ovation, sailing in the Mediterranean, will be full next week, a significant milestone in the long process of Seabourn's restart of cruising.)

 

13 hours ago, GrandCru said:

I have searched this thread but have not found any mention about formal nights.  Are people dressing up for them?

 

On the one week Caribbean cruises, there is one formal night per week. On last week's cruise, I saw one white dinner jacket and one or two tuxes; most other men were wearing suits or sport coats. 

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