Treasures of the Mediterranean Isles

It’s a “GO”. My Windstar Star Breeze trip got canceled cuz they could not get vaccines for the crew. They have them now so we rebooked for two weeks later. They are going to Puerto Rico to get vaccinated. The ‘inaugural’ cruise is sitting in St. Maarten with the guests enjoying a free ‘cruise’ to no where.

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Comments

  • I guess we are the only ‘forum’ people on the ‘Treasures …’ trip. That’s a bit surprising since it is sold out.

  • Sealord - Safe travels. Please be sure to post a review!

  • Sealor Congrats! enjoy and tell us all about it. Pictures please.

  • Yes, We are on Le Bougainville, an expedition ship like we have been on before. Due to the cancelation and rebooking of our Star Breeze trip, we will only have 3 1/2 weeks between trips. Our dog may adopt our dog sitter. Sint Maarten changed their entry rules at the last minute, so you need to watch that stuff. They had a 120 hour PCR test requirement, but that is now 72 hours. We rescheduled.

  • Treasures of the Med. Isles is underway. We just had the welcome dinner where we are all gathered in Marseille. Masks are worn indoors, but very few wear masks outdoors. The CDC card was all that was necessary to get us through Germany and into Marseille. We went to local restaurants and museums today on our own, and the most they asked for was the CDC card. We carried copies of our passports but no one asked to see them. Our cruse director is the same guy who took us to the Rocky Mountains several years ago. Our ‘room luck’ has continued. We were given an upgrade to a suite at the Intercontinental Marseille that is only slightly smaller than our house. It even has a guest’ bathroom. The flight from Munich to Marseille was oversold. The only surprise was that the Munich airport required N95 masks or equivalent. We had to buy them at duty free to get into the Lufthansa ‘club’.

  • Sealord, you are our Hero!!!
    I'm so happy to hear you're already traveling ..as always keeping us inform... Also relieve to know everyone is asking for vaccination cards , that will keep the non vaccinated home for their own safety and also of others..
    I will buy a couple of the N95 just in case, I have a box of the surgical masks and also taking gloves .
    was the international flight full?
    Have an amazing trip, keep in touch.
    Thanks.

  • On the International leg I can only say that business class was full. I did not go in the back as we were in Row one. Not everyone asks for the vaccination card, But, no one asked for the ‘French certification’. We have eaten at several places that did not ask for anything. The CDC card was necessary to get into museums, and to check into the hotel. Marseille is a beautiful city. I just had a big pile of ‘mule’ for lunch. Tomorrow we do a little more touring by foot, then a three hour drive to Nice to board Le Bougainville. While touring today we actually saw both Le Bougainville at sea, and Le Champlain at the dock in Marseille.

  • On day two we did a ‘foot’ tour of ‘Old Town Provence’, and then drove to Nice. We had thunderstorms enroute to Nice but otherwise perfect weather. Today we toured Napoleon’s ‘exile’ home on Elba, then toured the island, and went to a wine tasting. We are now enroute to Corsica. There are thirty of us in the Tauck group, and around 70 French on board. Boat is intentionally running at about 50% capacity. Everyone is ‘fighting’ with the VeriFly app that is required to enter Malta. I’m embarrassed to say that the VeriFly app (American Airlines) is a piece of crud. With the help of our TD, most have gotten it installed in a couple of hours. If you don’t own a ‘smart phone’, I guess you can’t go?

  • milmil
    edited August 25

    Happy to hear from you Sealord..it looks like everything is running like usual and you are in good spirit.
    One... couple.. well , some questions... How is Tauck handling the social distancing on the bus ? is it a big bus or do they divided the group in 2
    separate ones...? Are you wearing the mask most of the time? and did people said anything at the welcoming party if they were vaccinated or not? or it should be assume they are. :)))
    Keep having fun.
    Thanks

  • No questions about vaccinated at welcoming party … no vaccination you don’t get on the plane. Masks on the bus officially, normal capacity, no one cares except Tauck and Ponant who are trying to follow the rules. Everyone is vaccinated or you don’t even get into the arrival hotel. We checked in and the agent asked for our passports and CDC cards. Then she said, have I got a room for you! Masks indoors, or on the buses, when you are not eating nor drinking. No masks outdoors, nor while eating or drinking. Just had a giant gala dinner, normal capacity, no masks, no social distancing. Lots of fun.

  • edited August 25

    SeaLord, thank you for keeping us informed. I guess the no masks and no social distancing is going to put some people off traveling with Tauck just now. Can you ask to be seated separately at the meals or further apart on the bus because when some people booked these tours, Tauck was assuring these policies were being strictly adhered to but now they are saying it depends on the country. Might people be able to cancel? I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for others. Where we live now, masks are back a lot more than just a few weeks ago.

  • milmil
    edited August 26

    British, I see your point...and Yes! there'll be some, that won't feel comfortable about it....
    I guess there is always a chance to request a different seating ...as an easy solution...
    But I'm glad that to know everyone is vaccinated.. and that people are really tracking down and requesting proof of vaccination.
    I as an xtra precaution, plan to wear the mask as much as possible and I'll request a table just for my mom and I , if possible.... now, the bus situation... I will have to mask up and wear gloves ... just as I do at work. no problem.
    I rather be safe then sorry... But, I'm aware is up to me to protect myself and not count with the mercy of others....
    This is a learning curb for all and we should try to make the best of it, if we want to travel.
    The Virus is not going away, so we need to learn how to live with it.

  • I get wearing masks, but not sure I see the utility of wearing gloves for everyday activities. I do wash my hands or use hand sanitizer especially before eating meals, when I've been out and about touching things, etc.

  • edited August 26

    Claudia is indeed correct. In my working life, I had to wear both masks and gloves and teach students how to do so correctly snd safely.
    Gloves, if used improperly, can be a downright danger. When you put on a pair of those now darned purple gloves, they just become a second skin and you really have to think what you are doing or you might as well not be wearing them. First, let me give you a good time ot be wearing gloves…say someone suddenly starts bleeding or your doggie has an accident…it might be good to be wearing gloves to clean up, and you are unlikely to touch your face! You are also more likely to take the gloves off carefully and safely.
    Now let me give you a bad example…I don’t know why my best examples these days occur at Costco, but they do! We were in the checkout line, the checkout woman is wearing those purple gloves, I start to think, here we go! Yes, as our turn comes, she’s been handling everyone’s groceries in those gloves probably for hours. Before she picks up our first item, she adjusts her mask by putting her hands INSIDE the mask and then adjusts her glasses…she has transferred all those bugs from all those customers’ products right by her mouth and then covered it with a mask just to concentration them in a nice moist dark environment. She has put her hands right near the permeable eye membranes. What’s more, she is less likely to wash her hands because she thinks she is safe and clean because she is wearing gloves.
    Here’s my mask example..our health insurance includes a yearly home wellness visit. We did this a few years ago but decided to do it again because you get a nice gift card if you do. So last weekend, a nurse ‘waddles’ into our kitchen, not exactly an example of good health…. wearing a paper mask that she hasn’t bothered to pinch around her nose where the adjustable inside clip is for a good tighter fit, so it hangs quite loosely over her face and barely covers her nose, and now she is sitting at our kitchen table where we are wearing excellent fitting substantial layered cloth masks. She makes comment on our lovely front garden and asks to see our back garden, so always wanting to show off all my hard work, we go out onto the deck and she stands by our large potted fig tree, covered in figs and asks about our plants as we all look over the deck. She is there for a wellness visit. The first thing she hands us is an information sheet on fall’s prevention. She has already put two big black bags in the middle of the floor. Soon after a few questions, she removes a large scale and asks to weigh us. When she has finished, she doesn’t move the scale, but instead clutters the floor space even more. Several minutes later, she wants to check the blood flow in our feet, so wants us to put up our feet on another chair, she starts with me, she walks around the table and almost trips over all her clutter! She never bothers to move it, she walks back round to record my results and then almost trips again as she walks round to do Mr B. I’m the one who tries to move things safely out of her way. Then we get the bowels question, any bowel problems? We point to the fig tree snd say, we are earring handfuls of figs daily at present, no bowel problems, I don’t think her mom routinely gave her syrup of figs daily which was the thing when we were kids….anyway, I won’t go on, it’s passed midnight and for my good health, I should be asleep.

  • My husband and I always argue over gloves when doing a home painting job. He likes to wear them and I don't. In part because my hands just sweat in them. But also because if I'm using latex paint I know I can wash it off. If my hands are bare I know when I've gotten paint on them and wipe them off. If I'm wearing gloves I don't feel the paint and have a high chance I'm going to touch something and smear paint on it. Maybe something that isn't easy to wash. I figure the same with the virus. The gloves will give me a false sense of safety when in fact I'm just putting viruses or germs somewhere I don't realize I have done.

  • edited August 26

    British, you must be tempted to report all these mishaps to your insurance co., but that's a tough decision. Re groceries, most of my shopping thankfully is self-checkout these days.

  • Today we were in Porto Vecchio, Corsica, and we toured to Bonifacio. There we took a boat to view the magnificent limestone rock formations, and the surrounding elements. Then we took a train to the top of Bonifacio where we toured by foot. Later the ‘bubble’ was removed and we were allowed to shop, eat, drink and roam wherever. When we stopped for a drink we were asked if we had our CDC cards. We said, yes, and they were satisfied. The bus was loaded to normal capacity and all of the fully vaccinated occupants wore masks while on the bus, and while on the ‘train’ … not a real train. When we returned from our touring we received our first covid antigen test … everyone on the ship. On our cruises last month we received a total of five. As said in a post elsewhere, at home 60 some percent are vaccinated. Where we are now 100% are vaccinated and tested. Where would you rather be? Hand sanitizers are everywhere, the ship is as clean as a hospital … probably cleaner. Aboard ship everyone is masked except when eating or drinking. The ship is running at 50% capacity but ‘tables’ are not abnormally spaced. I’m probably going to call this our, “taking care of Sally” cruise. Everyone is taking care of Sally. Sally is a cute lady who is at least ninety, and walks with a cane. She has done thirty-one Tauck tours. The one big ‘pain’ of the trip has been the VeriFly app that must be completed in order to enter Malta. My wife just got her’s done after working on it since Monday. Whoever at AA designed that app should be shot.

  • milmil
    edited August 26

    **Claudia Sails Hi.
    I'm taking and wearing the gloves at every single airport and a new set for the plane as I go to the lavatory, I'll wash my gloves as I would do with my hands, open the door with a piece of paper and will take them off.. at my seat to be re-use as need it. :) used to do same thing before pandemic.
    Now , during day activities and inside the bus... of course not. I will do the Sanitizer... :)

    British thanks for the tutorial... it's always nice to refresh the info. I work in the medical field, so I'm used to wear them if I need to.

  • edited August 27

    Today was Cagliari, Sardinia. We toured the city by bus and by foot. We then went to a ‘convent’ for lunch … all local foods of course. In the past I travelled to Decimomannu near Cagliari where there was an Italian Air Force base. They allowed us to base our Naval Air Operations from there on many occasions. The Air Force has since departed. We are now enroute to Palermo. They are serving Champagne and crepes in the lounge where I’m sitting.

    I’ve not seen any guest, nor traveller wearing gloves. The employees are masked at all times, and I think I saw one wearing gloves while cleaning something. Servers do not wear gloves. As said, masks on the buses, and indoors in public unless eating or drinking … which is most of the time. It is a French ship so men and women use the same ‘rest’ rooms, which takes a little ‘getting’ used to. We have all completed our VeriFly apps for entry into Malta. VeriFly has become a pornographic word so it might get deleted. We actually have more people than previously stated. The ship holds 184 and we have 137 … 30 Tauck people.

    … just had some crepes with maple syrup and Grand Marnier … and of course a glass of Champagne. Ordinary Champagne today … for the Captain’s gala welcome aboard they served Veuve Clicquot to all. Their ‘ordinary’ Champagne is quite good.

  • Sealord - We had 135 ... 60 Tauck people for our Iceland trip earlier this Summer. Perhaps that 135-140 number is Ponant's current operating capacity target.

  • Enjoying your travelogue, Sealord, thx. A crepe's not a crepe without Grand Marnier.🥂

  • I just discovered that Veuve Clicquot is included in our Premium beverage package. No more ‘ordinary’ Champagne.
    We have four of Tauck’s best people working/traveling with us … a real pleasure.

  • Today was Palermo, Sicily. Toured by bus and on foot to see many interesting sites. We had a guest speaker on board for the Tauck people. He is part of an organization using ‘peaceful’ tactics to battle the mafia. The Godfather is alive and well in Palermo. One more city that required only the CDC card for entrance into museums, etc. We are currently departing Palermo for Taormina. We just entered the ‘back half’ of our trip. Windstar’s “Star Legend” and “Star Pride” are also here completing their renovations in the shipyard. We cruised on both of those ships before they were ‘stretched’. They are due to depart here soon.

  • I'm enjoying your daily updates/posts, Sealord. Just returned Thursday 26th from Wind Surf Portugal/Spain. You are 100% correct. She's a lovely ship. Fantastic experience.

  • Hey Sealord... I was looking for you in the Tauck Instagram post :))
    Enjoy that beautiful boat.

  • That’s Lane and Judy.

  • Everything looks so nice and delicious.... I'm so happy for you guys .
    Have fun !

  • edited August 29


    Mt. Etna and Taormina: We had done Mt. Etna before, so Taormina was our choice. It’s a beautiful area and one of our favorites. We toured by bus and then a walking tour of the city, and an exploration of the Roman theater that was first built in 300 BC. Our senior representative that we now call the ‘trouper’, the Sally person who is octogenarian at least, went all the way to the top cane and all. There were fabulous views of Mt. Etna, which erupted just as we arrived, and the harbor. We had lunch at a winery, and then returned to the ship via Zodiac instead of the tender. People on the ship were swimming off of the back sports platform. We found an invitation on our door when we returned, so tonight we will dine at the Captain’s table.

  • Thank you SeaLord for all your reports. It makes me want to take this tour in the future. And you made the Captain’s table, let us know about that too!

  • edited August 30

    Now in Siracusa: Taking the day off. Suffering slightly from cultural saturation we are staying aboard the ship, packing, and preparing for three nights in Malta where we get to test the ‘V’word … (VeriFly) which we all view as a pornographic word. We will be touring Malta while staying at the Malta Marriott, until we return to the U.S. on the 3rd … if they let us in. (;-). The dinner with the Captain last night turned out to be all Tauck guests at his table. I think there were eight including the Captain. We probably kept him longer than expected, and I finally suggested we should let him go about his business. It was a pleasant evening. We then danced the night away with a bunch of highly engaged French people. The Captain was there as well. The wine selection is better when there are French aboard and it is not a full boat charter. We have two TD’s, one other TD is doing a refresher, and then there is a Tauck rep who does liaison with the ship. They are setting up the rear deck for lunch now. The ship serves the best hamburger I’ve ever had. They have a full menu of course … but the burger is ‘great’. I did see one server wearing gloves this morning. That is not the ‘normal’.

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