By Peter Knego |Aug 11, 2021
Atlas Ocean Voyages’ World Navigator docked in Piraeus, Greece. Photo Credit: Peter Knego
Peter Knego is aboard Atlas Ocean Voyages’ new World Navigator for the cruise line’s maiden voyage.
ABOARD THE WORLD NAVIGATOR — As Atlas Ocean Voyages’ brand new World Navigator navigated the swells between Heraklion and Alexandria, Egypt, the captain made a sobering announcement.
It was revealed that one passenger tested positive for Covid on Aug. 10 and all guests and staff who have been in contact with that person have been isolated and retested.
The 196-passenger World Navigator is currently sailing its maiden voyage, a 10-day cruise between Athens and Alexandria via the Greek Islands.
Thankfully, the results for the contacts have thus far turned out negative. But by evening, a follow up PCR test of the passenger was confirmed as positive and guests were told that our stop on Aug. 11 in Alexandria had been canceled and that the ship was turning back to Heraklion.
Two full days of tours had been planned for Egypt and slated to end with a light show at the pyramids of Giza before our homeward flights. As of almost midnight on Aug 10, it was not clear what Atlas would do to get passengers home.
The Covid protocols for this ship, and this voyage in particular, were first to meet the Greek travel requirements of either having proof of complete vaccination or negative results from a PCR test 72 hours before arrival.
Since the line began selling space on the ship earlier this year, we were told that it could not retroactively require mandatory vaccinations for all guests but it had required the negative PCR test results within 72 hours of boarding the ship in Piraeus.
Atlas Ocean Voyages’ Covid kits have N95 masks, hand sanitizer and paper hand soap. Photo Credit: Peter Knego
As an extra precaution, all guests were subjected to another rapid antigen test at the Piraeus cruise terminal and had to be cleared negative before being allowed on the ship. A hand sanitizer at the gangway was the first of many we would see on board, all strategically placed at the public room entrances and throughout the ship.
Masks are also available in many areas of the ship for those who occasionally forget to don them before leaving the cabin. An extra special touch is that when we arrived at our cabin, there were nice Covid kits with N95 masks, hand sanitizer and paper hand soap.
All staff have worn masks and guests have been instructed to wear masks in public areas except when seated. The seating in public spaces is interspersed with “please do not sit” signs that are intended to keep guests socially distanced but as the cruise has gone on, this has been somewhat relaxed as people feel more comfortable or have a few drinks. This has been especially evident in the evenings during gatherings at the Dome observation lounge, a lively, fun spot with loud music and convivial vibes that might have guests getting too casual in this Covid era.
With Greece having just entered a Stage Four Covid restriction phase, everyone on shore excursions has, of course, been instructed to wear a mask. Even on self-guided tours, the locals have also been encouraging masks in order to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
Masks are readily available throughout the World Navigator. Photo Credit: Peter Knego
The safe, socially distanced flow in stairwells and passageways is also encouraged with a system of arrows that are sometimes not seen (understandable) or ignored by fellow guests. Other protocols include all public bathrooms on the ship being closed. That rule isn’t so challenging on a 9,930-gross-ton ship where anyone’s stateroom is within close proximity.
Of course, there are those who do not believe in vaccines and some are actually onboard during this trip. Those same people have been spotted not wearing masks, as well. We have been doing our best to avoid them and even refused to be on the same tour bus with them in Heraklion.
If anything, it is a sober reminder that everyone needs to keep their guard up until this crisis has finally abated so that we can keep cruising on.