Travels with Bob
Travelers Putting 2021 in Rear-View Mirror
With the holidays rapidly approaching, many leisure travelers are anticipating a better travel environment and improving opportunities to travel in the year ahead, while simply trying to forget the past 21 months.
At least, I am!
By mid-2022, I expect most cruise ships will be back in the water and all, but few destinations open again albeit with certain restrictions and health protocols for admission. In fact, many cruise itineraries are already selling out for late spring and summer in response to promotions designed to jump-start the industry again.
Several clients already have two international trips planned for the year ahead and a few have as many as four international vacations on tap for 2022. Furthermore, many travelers are seeking longer, more expensive itineraries and upgraded accommodations compared with their pre-COVID travels.
I usually recommend a slower pace for your vacation travels, and that approach is even more important today as you navigate ongoing health protocols in the post-COVID environment. My East Africa safari last month, for example, became a deep-dive into native Kenyan culture and genuine connection with the wild animal kingdom―creating an overall travel experience I will never forget. Certainly, the “experience” can be more important than the destination.
Yet, it took me 28 hours door-to-door, managing travel protocols and three flights, just to reach Nairobi and begin my exploration of the region visited by Ernest Hemmingway in the 1930’s. To put my long trip in proper perspective, however, it’s important to realize Hemingway needed weeks rather than hours to reach the same destination. I will be sharing my Kenyan safari experience with my next “Travels with Bob” blog post.
GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Several of my clients are planning 2022 and 2023 vacations with their extended families and most land-based vacations involve remote destinations far away from the crowds expected to descend on Europe next summer. For example, I currently have multi-generational families planning villa vacations on Mallorca and Crete, and an island tour of the Azores. Still others are opting for traditional destinations including London and Reykjavik.
For cruise vacations, clients are increasingly gravitating toward smaller ships offering longer itineraries that include destinations not accessible to larger ships. They also are expecting additional shipboard amenities and a deluxe or luxury experience. Eighteen new cruise ships are set to debut in 2022, including several “expedition” ships designed to transport fewer than 1,000 guests to remote destinations such as Antarctica, or the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Artic. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean plans to launch its fifth and largest Oasis Class ship accommodating 6,988 passengers.
At the same time, you may need a “smart” phone to make the most of your next cruise. During the cruise shutdown, several cruise lines developed APPS downloadable to your phone created for pre-cruise planning, check-in and managing your itinerary onboard. Such enhancements provide for a touchless check-in, self-directed safety drill and the ability to make excursion and dinner reservations from your phone’s keypad.
ACCURATE, UP-TO-DATE TRAVEL INFO
My recent experience keeping up with accurate health-related travel information has led me increasingly to non- government sources for the latest updates. For example, the U.S. State Department website currently shows a “Level 4―Do Not Travel” status for Portugal, despite the fact that 84 percent of the country has been vaccinated against COVID-19 versus only about 70 percent of Americans. Overall, my private travel resources appear to be more accurate and timelier than the CDC or the State Department sites.
At the same time, having multiple information sources is imperative for international travel in a post-COVID world where the media can no longer be trusted to provide reliable information (i.e., the recent overblown accounts about the Omicron variant). Yet, without being fully vaccinated, don’t even think about a cruise or travel abroad for the near future.
WAVE PROMOTIONS COMING EARLY THIS YEAR
The cruise industry typically rolls out special promotions to build excitement and generate new reservations as a new year begins. It appears this annual “Wave Season” is starting early for 2022. In fact, I am already being bombarded with cruise, tour and various other travel promotions for the year ahead― with some promotions offering substantial discounts.
So, if you are still shopping for that magical Christmas gift, this may be the year to opt for a gift of travel for your special person and yourself. Better yet, the holidays represent an exciting time to plan an extended family vacation together, or a good time to design the special travel experience you were forced to put on hold the past two years―a milestone anniversary or birthday celebration trip.
Mary and I will be enjoying Christmas at home this year and planning a Christmas day picnic for two on the beach. It’s also a reflective time of year to be grateful for the many people who enrich our lives and to thank each of them. So, here’s wishing you and your family a warm Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Prosperous and Happy New Year!
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