Travel challenges

Let me start by saying that I love to travel, and am usually fairly flexible with changes. I’m not such an old grandma that a few changes or hurdles will spoil my trip. Right now, you HAVE to be patient, and know that changes is the word and flexibility is key.

Do you remember those rubber toys, Gumby and his horse…..well, I feel like you must be as flexible as that toy to travel during this time.

I started this trip back on Oct 17, flying out of a small airport in Maryland to a much larger airport for a connecting flight. My morning began at 430 am, eastern time. I knew I was in for a long layover. I paced myself for that layover.

I knew that from the moment I went into airport I would be wearing a mask, until the end of my travel day. I felt safest wearing an N95 mask on the plane and around other people in crowds. BOY was that a great decision. I ordered my masks on Amazon and actually found some made in the USA . The face of the mask looks like a duck bill and my hubby said I look like Donald Duck. Tempted to use a pen and paint on some eyes!

My layover lasted until early evening when I boarded the next flight. I was heading to Los Angeles and it was about a 5 hour flight. All was great until I realized we were sitting on the taxi way for a long time. We ended up returning to the gate, waiting for a maintenance repair, then waiting again for a new flight crew. During this time, we were stuck in our seats, for more than two hours. I was glad I had downloaded the app on my phone for the airport shuttle service I was using. I was able to rebook my pick up at LAX ….twice. I was using a company called Primetime, and it was very easy to reschedue. It was nearly midnight, California time before I got to the shuttle. And it was close to 1 AM before I got settled into my hotel room at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. I do recommend both Primetime Shuttle from LAX and the Crowne Plaza if you are sailing out of San Pedro. I had a safe ride to the hotel and a good nights sleep and lovely breakfast at the hotel. I felt refreshed and ready to board the Grand Princess on October 18.

Many people will say that the restart of cruising is not without it’s struggles. Getting ready to sail involved using the new “Medallion App” and also getting a COVID test 48 hours prior to sailing. I ordered my test online using the link on the Princess Cruise Line website about 6 weeks before our cruise. It came quickly and I was ready to do the test the day before I flew. The challenge with the at home test was using a “device” that was flexible in terms of the camera and angles to avoid glare etc. Thankfully I had just ordered a small tablet and my husband was helpful holding it to get the best angle of my drivers license, the Abbott test card, and me, all in the same view. TRICKY!!! He was suggesting that next time we use a plug in camera that is easier to move around. The online Abbott test, using EMED went well….except when we lost internet signal in the middle of the test. Once it restored, everything worked well and in a few minutes I had the official letter that said my test was negative. I knew it would be, as I had a test that was done at a health center earlier in the week, and have been “isolating” for about 2 weeks prior. I didn’t want to risk exposure so close to the cruise. If you follow the cruise industry, you are aware that the rules put forth by the CDC have been changing weekly and you really have to be vigilant in staying up to date. Again, this is the challenge of travel and such a challenge for the restart of cruising. I love cruising enough to “act like GUMBY” and “be flexible”. (My husband said it is NOT worth the headaches)

We joined the Grand Princess on October 18, sailing for a total of 4 cruises, ending on November 5. That created a set of challenges as well, as some where along the line, our trips were not “linked” in the Princess personalizer on the website, or on the new “Medallion Class app”.

My sister and I arrived at the terminal independent of each other I was there and upon trying to check in for embarkation, my Medallion would not work.. Three supervisors later, they figured out the problem, and pomised it was going to be fixed by the time we got to the gangway. That added 45 minutes to the embarkation process, and a fair amount of stress. By the time my sister arrived we had it fairly sorted out and were able to board quickly.

Let’s talk about the Medallion App….and the devices and the little Medallion itself. I’ve used the Medallion before, on the Regal and the Crown, in 2018 and 2019. It worked reasonably on those ships. On this series of cruises it has been a giant failure. Thank goodness for people like Carrina and Elizabeth on this ship for trying to fix the “tech” failures of this program. Between my sister and myself, we have spent an hour, every day of the cruise dealing with some problem the medallion magically has. Think the new CEO of Princess, who developed this technology needs to have a look at the “error logs ” associated with our cruises! The nice lady at the customer service counter, Elizabeth, has made us her special project until we disembark. So far, she has sent a nice bottle of bubbly to our cabin, and gifted us EACH with a spa day, where we had massages! She has even come up to visit us in the cabin to help resolve issues, as it is challenging for my sister to walk a lot and stand at her counter for long periods of time.

The Princess Medallion replaces your traditional key card to enter the room. It is also a locater device, so the crew knows at all times where you are on board, and whom you have been in close contact with. You use it when shopping, buying drinks or coffee, and in the casino. You use it when you book tours, arrive in the dining room and so much more. The thing looks like an Apple Air Tag, and fits in those Apple watchbands. The APP is something you download to your cell phone or tablet and you can order (presumably) a drink right to your location from anywhere on the ship. I’ve been able to get that to work once. You also can use the television screen in the cabin to order snacks or drinks for delivery to the cabin. And if you are inclined, you can play games on the app, and gamble in your lounger by the pool or play bingo on your phone. So many things have been added to the app that in my humble opinion, it is well overloaded and just a total waste. My husband calls it programming BLOAT. Ours have stopped working, multiple times and led to much annoyance WHLE on the ship. PRE-Cruise, the app was a royal pain and equally frustrating, as information would just randomly disappear. Keep your fingers crossed that for the next six days we can keep it all working .

Speaking of working, I know that the crew members on board the Grand Princess are very happy to be back on board, and we are taking extra care to thank them for the lovely service they provide. When asked, each will tell you the story of how things were in their home countries, how the vacinne distribution is going etc. Many crew members we encountered in the last 2 weeks have been with Princess for more than 10 years, and these jobs provide for their families around the world, and are superior in pay to what they could earn at home. The level of service is amazing on Princess, and I highly recommend the cruise line if you are looking for a pleasant sailing experience. I’m certain that they will work out the bugs with the Medallion and the App in the near future.

Next post will be after I am home, when I can edit my photos and include them. I’ve had some great excursions, and can’t wait to share them with you.

t

10 thoughts on “Travel challenges

    • I think the worst was having to wear a mask from the moment you walked into an airport until you left the airport. The best was how few people were on the cruise ship, and the feeling that the ship was very “UNCROWDED” …no waiting for elevators, or tables or lounge chairs. The ship felt very safe with all the protocols they have to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I did, and as the “USA reopens” to world travel on Nov 8, there will be a lot more people coming to vacation in the US. The #1 negative for me was having to wear a mask for hours on end in the airport/plane. It is doable, but annoying at worst.

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  1. I’m glad you are having a good time. Sounds like more trouble than its worth for me! I really don’t want someone knowing where I am every second of every hour!! LOL Have fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The little “tracking device” is handy….the bartender knows your name and drink preferences, the waiters in the dining room know what you like, and the door unlocks for you automatically. The plus to “knowing where you are” is that if there was an outbreak, the computer could quickly sort out who was a ‘close contact’ for exposure. Fortunately, no outbreaks on our ship due to an abundance of caution by the cruise line.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, this cruise has added to your cruising experiences for sure!! So glad it all worked out in the end. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more from “Gumby”! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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