Last week I said a brief hello from the Seine. It’s hard to believe that last weekend I was bicycling in Giverny looking at paintings by Claude Monet. My entire Saturday was spent wandering through the streets of Paris with friends, both old and new.
Was that the most obnoxious paragraph I’ve ever written? …probably. But thanks to Viking River Cruises I was able to live my best life in France last week. I want to talk about Viking and its wonderful new ships and the beautiful event that I attended, but I want to do that later when I can speak properly to the entire Viking experience on the Seine. For now, I want to address your questions about what it is like to travel right now.
Some are still worried about Covid and its seemingly never ending variants, while others who have calmed their Covid concerns are now worried about the emerging threat of a World War. The truth is, traveling now feels much safer than it did earlier in the pandemic. Sure, the situation in the Ukraine is troubling, to say the least, and we all talked about it more than once during the trip, but there was little to no impact on how safe I felt traveling. When I was flying back home, there was a woman who had just been at a travel conference in Budapest and said that the city felt “strangely normal”. Though the city is a couple hundred of miles from the Ukrainian border it was still surprising to hear that there were few reminders of the refugees being forced to flee their homes. In France, there were many reminders – from seats reserved for Ukrainians in need of help in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport to hundreds of flags hanging from residential and government buildings alike.
Even during Viking’s christening ceremony we were told that there would be no fireworks or big hurrah to celebrate out of respect for the peace of those around us. One of the godmothers released doves as a symbol of that peace we wished to respect and encourage.
As far as Covid goes, things seemed very normal. As I mentioned last week, France did away with its Pass Sanitaire and mask requirements just days before my arrival. I hardly saw anyone wearing a mask except for on the subway and in the airport. No need for a Covid pass or vaccine card. Traveling about was completely normal.
Viking handled things a bit differently. We were required to wear masks on board, though, as I mentioned, I think this rule will be done away with shortly. We were also tested every day. These tests were conducted through partnerships with labs around the riverbanks. Every night at turndown, we would receive an envelope and a spit tube to be returned to the front desk every morning by a certain time – usually 7AM. Some of the other guests onboard were not too fond of spitting into a tube every morning. For me, it was a minor inconvenience that provided major comfort. (The only thing I would have done differently is request a robe and slippers in my room so that I could run down to the desk without having to get dressed every morning. ) Since Viking has used this system of testing, the company has been able to avoid Covid outbreaks onboard any of its ships.
It was refreshing to travel without worrying about staying in a “bubble” or having to keep up with Covid documentation. When I traveled on the Rhine in 2021 we had to fill out all sorts of paperwork as we traveled between countries. This time was much easier.
Some will still have their doubts about traveling this spring, and that’s okay. It is easy for me to be comfortable with Covid protocols and regulations loosening because I am young, healthy and vaccinated and boosted. Some people that I know don’t have the privilege of feeling as comfortable about the state of the pandemic at this time. Though spring might be pushing it, I am confident that travel will open up even more by the summer and fall of this year. I can’t wait to see you all traveling again.
Next week, we will talk more about Viking’s beautiful new river ships and the Viking experience on the Seine.
See you then.