The coronavirus has undoubtedly disrupted our life and impacted several industries. The once untouchable gigantic cruise industry has been among the most impacted, labeled as a breeding ground for the virus, many cruise ships were forced to cancel their scheduled voyages for the rest of 2020 and through early 2021 which left many crew members jobless. However, with the virus slowly getting under control resulting in restrictions being eased, some cruise lines have started sailing again mainly in European waters. Therefore, crew members are joining back the cruise ships to resume work again.
It’s a fact that life (in general) on board will no longer be the same as it was prior to Covid-19. To get an idea of what’s happening onboard, I’ve gone through several articles and have interviewed my friend who’s currently working on the MSC Grandiosa, which was one of the first ships to resume sailing post lockdown.
Q: Has the work environment onboard changed post-Corona lockdown? A: Work on board is the same as before but new protocols have been implemented(covid prevention protocols) and we have to follow strict compulsory measures. Guests are trained about the new covid protocol onboard in order to enjoy their cruise with minimal risk of contamination.
Q: What sanitary measures are being taken by the ship to ensure the safety of the crew and guests? A: Crew members are having single cabins wherever possible and upon availability.Compulsory swab tests are being performed prior to embarkation for both crew and guests. Crew members also have to submit a negative covid-19 test to the company test before boarding the flight. Families are treated like social bubbles. Social distancing in public areas and crew areas are being strictly monitored. Sanitizer stands are placed all over the ship. Masks are compulsory and staffs wear gloves. There is minimum guest and crew contact via new technologies services. Additionally, crew members have daily temperature checks. When it comes to excursion, guests and crew from one ship does not mingle with outside tour guides and peoples.
Q: Do you have to quarantine before joining the ship and after finishing your contract? 5A: Yes, Crew members are quarantined for a minimum of 2-3 weeks before commencing duty.
Q: Has the clientele changed? A: The ship is not operating to its full capacity, so we have fewer guests onboard. Demographics wise, we have a younger clientele (mainly European) before the guests were mainly elderly people
Q: Are you allowed to go ashore? A: No.
Q: What if a crew member is suspected to carry the virus? A: I was contact-traced and put in isolation in a single cabin for 10 days. I had to undergo swab tests several times a day. Meals were being delivered to my cabin and I was not allowed to roam around. The company takes good care of you in this situation.
No shore leaves and additional rules and regulations in new contracts
Previous contracts already had a long list of rigid rules, regulations, and protocols, and now the coronavirus has just added a new layer to it. As you’ve read above, shore leaves are not allowed for the entire contract (traveling the world is no longer a source of motivation to work on a cruise ship). Royal Caribbean cruises has established a 15 Steps protocol that crew members need to follow before re-joining the cruise. Wearing Protective equipment (masks, gloves.) will be compulsory and crew members have to undergo daily temperature checks. Also, if you’ve been contact traced or suspected to have covid, the cruise ship will isolate you for 10+days and will have to go undergo swab tests. With social distancing, Crew bars have limited opening hours, and fewer parties are organized(or no parties at all). Furthermore, You will have to quarantine again once your contract ends both on the cruise and when you reach your home country.
The good is news is shorter contracts (depending on the cruise line), my friend from MSc has signed for a 5-month contract when previously her contracts were 9 months long. Besides, some of the new restrictions might be softened not immediately though, but once the pandemic gets fully under control. If you would like to add something please feel free to do so in the comment and for brave seafarers going back on cruises, Be safe and happy sailing!
The first time I stepped foot in Vietnam, I instantly despised with the country. The never-ending hustle-bustle of the city, the chaotic traffic, the scary motorbikes that swirl around you at the last moment, and the scams. I had every reason to leave the country ASAP, but for some unknown reason, I did not. Throughout my stay, I slowly started falling in love with the country or should I say Saigon, so much that I felt an empty space in my heart when it was time to leave. I love the South of Vietnam but I prefer the climate and the beautiful nature of the North. I was so excited for my two months trip to Northern Vietnam this year but with the current global pandemic, international travel is almost impossible.
I’m a bit saddened by this but I’m also happy that I could not visit this year because I’ve recently discovered a bunch of awesome spots that I would have missed out on.I’ve scoured the internet for the most epic spots and activities to do in Nothern Vietnam and put everything in a bucket list. Here’s my 2021 Nothern Vietnam Bucket list, let’s dig into it.
Hanoi Hanoi,the capital of Vietnam,Known for its lively traffic, delicious cuisine notably the egg coffee and well preserved architectural buildings. Here’s what I plan to do here;
Spend one month to catch the vibe of the city.
Drink Egg coffee at Cafe Giang(This cafe is the original creator of the famous coffee).
Visit train street and watch the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh train pass.
Chill at Hoan Kiem Lake The best time to visit is from Fridays to Sundays as the nearby traffic is banned from 7 pm to midnight.
Wander in the Old quarter The main attractions are the 36 themed streets, the Ancient house, and St Joseph Cathedral.
Watch the change of guards at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Explore the Ngoc Temple(Temple of the Jade Mountain).
Watch a Show at Hanoi Opera House.
Watch the water puppets show at Than Long Theatre.
Visit Temple of literature.
Visit the Vietnamese woman museum.
Learn history at Hanoi Hilton. This place is intense and not for the faint-hearted.
Admire the city from the Lotte Observation Deck.
Chill at a rooftop bar.
Flower shopping at Quang Ba Flower market.
Visit Hanoi’s Mosaique mural .
Ha Long City Halong City has so much to offer other than a Halong bay cruise. It’s unfortunate that most tourists visit Ha Long just for a 2-3 days Ha Long Bay cruise. Here’s a list of what the city has to offer ;
Spend 3 weeks here to catch the vibe.
Cruise to Lan Ha bay (because Ha long bay is overcrowded with tourists)
Visit the Sun world Complex.
Ride on the largest cable car in the world.
Chill at Bai Chay beach.
Visit Bai Chay market.
Hike at Cat Ba Island.
Visit caves ; Sung sot cave and Thien Cung Cave.
Cycle the city.
Shopping at Vincom Halong.
Ninh Binh Province
Ninh Binh is one of the hidden gems of Vietnam. It’s similar to Halong bay but it’s on land and more gorgeous. Most Visitors miss out on this place because it is not touristy. I myself would have missed out on it if I traveled this year.
Go on a boat tour in Tam Coc or Trang An (or both!). The incredible thing here beside the stunning Karst Landscape is that the boat guides row with their feet.
Climb Hang Mua Mountain.
Trek Bich dong Pagoda.
Explore Bai Dinh Pagoda-the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.
Hike Silver Cloud Peak in Cuc Phuong Jungle.
Eat as much Com Chay as possible. 😀
Lao Cai Province This is where I’ve been yearning to go because I love places which are cold, foggy and full of greeneries. Here’s how I plan to spend my time ;
Ride the overnight train. (alternately there’s a bus)
Cable ride to Fansipan Mountain. (I know I’ve said I’ll hike the mountain and now I’m saying I’ll ride on the cable car. Well,the views are different each way :D)
Visit Y Ty. Y Ty is known as foggy land, it’s not touristy at all and the infrastructures are bad but it’s still worth the visit as it is a heavenly location.
Ha Giang Motorbike adventure (End the Northern Vietnam trip epically)
Ba Be National Park.
Besides all these activities, I forgot to mention that I intend to eat as much local food I can and take a myriad of cooking classes. Use this bucket list as an inspiration for your next Vietnamese adventure.
After publishing this blog post I’m probably going to hide in a haunted forest until I have the guts to come back. Traveling makes us wiser, broadens our mind, takes us new places, and gives a sense of freedom.When we set out for our traveling journey, we hope for a smooth sailing and good memories only.However, not every journey is a smooth sail, we occasionally experience some rough seas regardless of how positive we are about our trip. These moments of rough seas become either a minor issue in our travel experience or our Worst travel memories.
Below I share with you my worst travel memories. Some of them make me cringe and call myself stupid. Others make me laugh at myself and a few of them infuriate me. Without further ado,let’s dig in.
1. Not being able to retrieve my suitcase from the baggage carousel.
This happened on my first trip to Hong Kong. I’m sure a lot of people laughed at me on that day. I don’t know if the baggage carousel was moving too fast or if I was exhausted from the flight. But when I grabbed the suitcase to pull it from the carousel, it carried me along. My baggage felt heavier than it was before I left for Hong Kong. Imagine how ridiculous that scene was: being dragged along trying to pull out my suitcase. That day, I told myself never again am I traveling with a 40kg suitcase.
2.Trying to ascend a descending escalator .
I don’t know how I could do such a stupid thing. I was extremely sleep deprived from work and I was jet-lagged as well (I was working on a cruise ship back then). I knew my body badly needed some sleep but I wanted to explore Singapore too. So I went to the harbor front, I was on the ground floor looking for a way to get to the shop upstairs, and as soon as I spotted an escalator, I stepped on it. Not checking if it was coming down or going up. I remember asking myself: ‘’ why is that thing pushing me down?’’. It was not until I spotted an elderly lady looking at me weirdly that I realized I was attempting to go up on a descending escalator. I ran away from the machine red in the face. This is my cringest travel memory. I still want to hide in a deep hole when I recall this moment
3.Being accused of carrying drugs by Singaporean ports Official.
This happened on my 2nd visit to Singapore, I was still working on the cruise ship. I bought a new suitcase on that day, because the one I had was damaged. As I was passing through the security, this grumpy guy blocked my way and started questioning me about my suitcase. He told me that he needed to check inside because I might be carrying drugs. Woah, this statement irritated me but I calmly said: ‘’This is a new suitcase, there’s nothing inside. You can see it through the scan’ ’But, this guy insisted that I open it because he had a doubt that I’d smuggled drug inside. This resulted in a heated argument and his colleagues had to intervene. But hey I stood up for myself and in the end, I did not have to open my new suitcase. After this incident, I swore to myself I will never put a foot in Singapore again. But later, I realized that the other Singaporeans I met, were friendly and welcoming people. Therefore I can’t blacklist an entire country because of the unpleasant attitude of one single individual.
4.Wasting 15 minutes on a Pedestrian crossing in Vietnam.
Traffic rules don’t exist in Vietnam. Pedestrian Crossings and traffic lights are just for decorative purposes. Well, I did not know this on my first visit to this country. I ended standing on the pedestrian for a good 15 minutes, wondering why the motorbikes weren’t stopping at red lights and why they circled dangerously around people attempting to cross to the other side. After a while, my patience came to an end, I did as the locals were doing; crossing on a green light, moving slowly in the midst of this motorbike chaos and letting them swirl around me. Later, I felt so irresponsible for crossing the street this way. When I looked up online, I learned that’s the normal way of crossing the road in Vietnam; you just have to walk NEVER RUN! I would have saved my 15 minutes if only I’d researched about the traffic rules in Vietnam beforehand. Lesson Learnt!
5.Getting Scammed by a Tuk Tuk driver in Cambodia
I wanted to travel in a tuk-tuk on my visit to Phnom Penh. As I was trying to cross to the other side of the street, a friendly-looking tuk-tuk driver stopped by and proposed to take me to the nearby Wat-Leun Temple for $50.I told him it’s an expensive price and he dropped it to $35 to which I agreed. It was a short 30 min drive away from the capital. The place was really peaceful and the ride was fun. However, at the end of the trip, when I handed him the money, he told me that he had said $45.I argued with him but he kept insisting. Language being a barrier and also because I did not want to get into a fight in a foreign country because of $10,I gave him the $45 he was demanding My jaw dropped when I checked for the fare on TripAdvisor.The average price for a tuk-tuk ride is $20. I got heavily ripped off.
6.Getting yelled at by taxi drivers in India and being forcibly taken on shop tours.
This is one of my scariest travel experience. I promised to myself to never go to India alone again. This happened in Mumbai. I was walking outside near the Mumbai port, peacefully strolling through the streets. Suddenly, I felt a group of men following me; they were taxi drivers offering to take me around the city, I politely refused them. But they didn’t pay heed and kept following me for a good 10 minutes invading my personal distance occasionally. I was really annoyed and I coldly told them: ‘’ I’ve asked you nicely to leave me alone several times. I don’t want a taxi ride, Just go away please’’.One of them yelled in my face; ‘’Just go then’’ and continued on yelling in his native language. I was scared at this point but they eventually left. Further down the street, I met a man as I was coming out of a restaurant, he looked friendly and knew a lot about my country, Mauritius. Foolishly, I trusted him and I confided to him, that I wanted to visit the gateway of India and told him the story about the taxi drivers earlier. He seemed to sympathize with me and called me a taxi(one of his friends) and said I had to spend 10 minutes in 2-3 shops so that he can park freely at the tourist spot. This man was huge a liar: Taxi drivers get commissions when they bring tourists to the shops and not free parking spots! The dishonest taxi driver took me on 45 minutes shop tour and when we reached the gateway of India, he kept hurrying me up and I spent only 5 minutes at the place. I was so disappointed! When we got back to his taxi, I was really frustrated and wanted to cry as well. I told him I have other things to do and to drop me nearby a bus stop. He was annoyed and rudely replied; “Just sit down, we have other shops to visit”. But I kept insisting to be dropped at a bus stop. When I paid him the fare we’d agreed on. He had the audacity to ask me for ‘’gifts’’. HAHAHA! He wanted a tip for ruining my trip and wasting my time.
7.Getting quoted a higher price because I’m a woman.
I was in Sri Lanka. My colleagues wanted to visit a temple and they invited me to join them. Since we were far from the city Center, they hailed a taxi down. They were all boys. I was a bit away from them when they were negotiating with the driver as I was clicking some pictures. When everything was settled, they gestured me to hop in the car. Upon my arrival, he hiked up the price and he said it’s because I’m a woman. My dudes didn’t agree with him and we paid him the price he quoted before.
At the temple, we hired a rickshaw driver to take us back, we agreed to pay him $15 and we even tipped him $5.But boy! He was a greedy man! When my colleagues turned their back, he quietly called me and asked me for $5 more then changed it to $10. When I asked him why, he told me ‘’I was not included in the price quoted before because the pricing is different for a girl’’. I wanted to argue with him but noticed my colleagues were a bit far away and the place I was at looked sketchy. As I was about to hand him the money, luckily my colleagues came back and chased him away. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country but when you experience things like this and you end up hating the whole country itself.
8.Flying through a Turbulence
This happened exactly one year ago on this very date 27 July in Barcelona. It was raining cats and dogs in Spain on that day and several flights were canceled due to this. My flight got delayed by 2 hours. The plane took off without any problem but 30 minutes later, I thought the plane was going to crash. I remember seeing a flash of white light outside the window which engulfed the plane then the aircraft dropped down in altitude abruptly and the lights went off for a brief second and the flight attendants were telling everybody to remain seated and to fasten their seatbelt.Luckily,it was nothing serious but a lightening. I love flying through occasional turbulences but this one scared me out of my wits.
That’s it for my not so glorious travel experiences, although they happened 1-2 years ago, they are still fresh in mind especially the escalator one
What are your worst travel memories? Share them in the comments below.
I went on my first coastal walk last week. It is a shame that living on an island, I’ve never thought about it earlier. But as we say better late than never. Initially, I’d planned to hike on the western coast, but I was uncomfortable adventuring alone in that location. Because the area is prone to unpredictable weather, so I opted for the North.
My adventure began in Trou aux Biches, a 30 minutes’ car drive from the capital city, Port Louis. Alternatively, You can catch the 82, Cap Malheureux Bus which takes around one hour. Trou aux Biches village is famous for its sandy beach, posh hotel resorts, and restaurants. I grabbed a steaming bowl of dumpling at Chez Meung, a traditional Chinese restaurant before the hike because I don’t start any adventure without a bowl of dumpling or noodles. After I finished, I crossed to the other side of the street, tightened my shoelace, and began hiking.
Difficulty level of the hike.
My itinerary was until Mon Choisy, another amazing beach. Google Maps claims the circuit takes 40 minutes but it is different when you are moving on the coastline. My time frame was 1 hour 15 minutes (honestly, I was lazing around). It can be more or less depending on your walking pace. The trail is beginner-friendly. The surface is flat with no rock climbing or steep slope. However, near the end, there is a rocky shore. The water level is shallow but the rocks are slippery, they are covered with algae, be careful there.
What to Expect on the track.
En route, a manifold of picturesque spots and deserted stretches of white sand await you; you can relax for a while or take a dip in the water. You will come across a few local fishermen here and there as well as tourists’ resorts,you’ll have to pass through one of them as there is no other way. to go forward.Nearing Mon Choisy, you’ll find a Volleyball court under construction and a beautiful Hindu Temple.
Activities in Mon Choisy
Once at Mon Choisy, You can settle down to a picnic, grab an ice cream, go for a swim, or if you are energetic like me you can continue to walk until Pereybere beach (this a post for another day). Conversely, You can indulge yourself in the water sports activities if you’d like some adrenaline rush. Among all the beaches I’ve been to, Mon Choisy has the shallowest water, on top of that, the water is always warm even in Winter.
What to bring
For this hike, Sunscreen is vital unless you want a bad tan: I wore ¾ pants and did not apply sunscreen.Now my legs have two different shades.Although, this hike can be done barefoot I suggest you bring water shoes as I’ve mentioned the path is slippery in some area. Lastly don’t forget your water, snacks, and swimsuit because it’s useless to go to the beach and not take a good dip in the ocean.
If Mauritius is your next holiday destination and you want to enjoy the beaches to the maximum, then grab your flip flops and go on a coastal walk: it’s a cheap alternative to buses and taxis. And you will benefit from incredible views these means of transport don’t offer.
The CoronaVirus has not spared a single country in the world, from the rich countries to the poor Countries, It forced a state of lockdown upon all of them. Borders were closed, Airplanes were forced to stay on the ground and cruise ships forced to cancel their summer sailing season and harbor in the ports, empty!. With all this sudden and unexpected event, we found ourselves stuck at home, with our travel plans annihilated or for the lucky ones postponed.
Several months after this deadly pandemic, countries are preparing to go back to ”normal” (can things be completely back to normal?), some have already lifted up the lockdown and others eased the restrictions. For example, my Country Mauritius eased down the restrictions since the 1st of June; Shopping malls, cafes, restaurants are open again, however, beaches, National parks, movie theaters, and the airport remain close. Since then, I’ve started to draft my ‘post corona travel plans’, that’s how I called it and below I reveal it to you.
Explore the central part of my country.
The central region of my country is known for its cold and rainy weather as well as it’s colonial buildings, the plethora of shopping malls, and the dormant volcano Crater named Trou aux cerfs.In my 22 years of life, I’ve visited this part of the country only thrice. That’s why, last week,2 days after the partial deconfinement, I took a trip there, only to be welcomed by a sudden heavy downpour of rain and a drop in the temperature. I could not explore the surrounding because of that, bought some wonderful flowers and came back home where a warm-weather awaited me but I’m going back there this weekend hoping for a better weather than the last time.
2. Hike The Southern Part Of My Country.
The Southern Part of Mauritius is home to many scenic roads, cliffs, and Nature reserves. It’s my favorite part of the Island and I’ve been there several times in the past. However, during the lockdown, I’ve been missing this area a lot especially the Black River Gorges National Park. The last time I hiked this place I was 18 years old. I would like to camp there on a weekend with my good friends before I resume work again.
3.Sail On The Rhine River.
Had Covid-19 not been a huge issue, I would already be sailing on the Rhine river. But with the situation right now, It’s better to wait for things to be safe again. I was due to join a river cruise as a crew member in April, but as you already know the disastrous impact Coronavirus had on the cruising industry and tourism industry in general. Henceforth, I’m here waiting for the season to resume to again.I’ve never missed work this much prior to the coronavirus. Weird!.
4.Move to Northern Vietnam.
I disliked this country so bad when I visited it for the first, I swore to never put a foot there again: The roads are chaotic, I was the victim of scams from greedy taxi drivers and tradesmen. Then, I don’t know why I went there for a second visit but it was a different and amazing experience from the first one. I experienced the friendliness of the people, the smiles, and some even helped me crossed the chaotic roads. Since my second trip there, my heart remained in this beautiful country for I’ve been yearning to go back again. Therefore, I’ve decided when my cruise ship contract ends, I’m moving to Hanoi. I chose Hanoi because of the beautiful nature of the North and the cool climate.
I always thought Laos was a boring and dull Country. Well, that was before I saw a documentary the other day on Tv. Oh dear, How I was wrong!. I wish I never listened to the hearsay of random people for Laos looked truly amazing in the documentary. On top of that, the flight time is around 1 hour from Vietnam. Hence. I will plan a weekend trip there once I’m settled in Hanoi.
6.Learn Asian Cuisine .
I like to cook, It’s one of my hobbies.I’ve always been fascinated by Asian cuisine and there’s no better place to learn about this cuisine other than Asia. All the necessary ingredients and spices are readily available so forget about the excuse that a certain recipe has to be substituted or cannot be made because certain ingredients are lacking.
That’s all about my future travel plans,at least for the moment.A lot of people are saying that traveling is dead for this year but I’m optimistic that we will be able to fly again before the end of 2020.CoronaVirus might change the way we used to travel but it can’t confine us forever in a single place.