I now know what it’s like to be a ping pong ball. Trips booked, then postponed, on again, off again, vaccine freedom, then Delta dread, governments imposing mandatory quarantines, then …
We were all set for our October 4, 2021 Crystal Debussy cruise on the Rhine. Flights booked, hotels booked. Ready. Set. Go. Not so fast. A month before our departure, in early September, the government of the Netherlands imposed new rules that required both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans to quarantine for 10 days. Crystal and other river cruise operators were left scratching their heads, along with those of us who had booked cruises departing from Amsterdam.
What to do? A 12-hour transit loophole provided a solution, a not-so-great one. The idea was that we would cancel our hotel rooms, reschedule our flights to arrive the day we were to step on Debussy and get the herring out of the Netherlands as quickly as possible – well, at least within 12 hours so as not to violate the quarantine requirement.
Then, today, not even two weeks later, the Dutch reversed the quarantine requirements, probably due to a lot of upset airlines, cruise companies, travel companies, hoteliers and anyone else who stood to make a buck off of tourists. “The rules on self-quarantining for people travelling to the Netherlands will change as of 22 September,” read a statement on the Netherlands’ government website. “Vaccinated travellers from the United States, the United Kingdom and other very high-risk areas no longer have to self-quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands.”
The decision seems to have been somewhat hastily made, as the next sentence reads, “The above measures will enter into effect on 25 September and will apply until further notice.” Uh, is it the 22nd or 25th?
The flip-flopping (or ping-ponging) caused a lot of problems. Folks traveling with me on Debussy had to cancel hotel rooms and redo their flights. One poor fellow, who is probably reading this, canceled his hotel room and rescheduled his flights the day before the Dutch rescinded their requirements.
The Dutch even relaxed their social-distancing rules, although, the governmental website reads, “Staying 1.5 metres from others is no longer mandatory, but is now an urgent advice.” I’m confused. It’s as if the person in charge of these rules is smoking hash. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s the Netherlands. They probably are.
Thankfully, mask requirements stayed in place.
The Netherlands certainly seems safer than where I live. North Carolina has seen a 38 percent increase in Covid cases over the past 14 days. The Netherlands has seen a 9 percent decrease. During the past 14 days, the Old North State has had 90 cases per 100,000 people on average compared to 14 per 100,000 for the Dutch.
With the welcome news from the Dutch government this week, it’s anchors aweigh. We’re going cruising, after all (at least for now).