- I’m one of 1,248 passengers on Cunard’s first cruise ship to leave the UK since January 2020.
- The sold-out, five-night Western Europe cruise will port in Amsterdam for two days.
- Owned by Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard is more formal than its American counterpart.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
So when Cunard (the popular British cruise line owned by Carnival) followed suit and announced its return to international cruising, I couldn’t wait to purchase a ticket.
The sold-out five-night Western Europe voyage on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship will port in Amsterdam for two nights.
It not only marks the cruise line’s first international voyage since January 2020, but it’s also my first experience on a cruise.
The Queen Elizabeth cruise ship usually has a capacity for 2,081 passengers, according to the Cunard website, which means there are around 1,248 people on this voyage.
Cunard asks passengers to fill out a health declaration form before boarding and to provide proof of their vaccination status.
I also had to fill out the UK Government’s Passenger Locator Form with details of my vaccination status and my pre-booked PCR test upon my return to the UK.
My passport and vaccination letter were checked by two different staff members before I went into a private booth to do the test.
I didn’t realize how nervous I was until one of the employees told me to have a nice cruise, and I replied: “You too!”
The rest of the check-in process went smoothly, and I was impressed by how thorough the staff were. For example, my passport was checked four times in total, and I had to complete a verbal health declaration despite already filling out the same form manually at home.
For someone who had never been on a cruise ship before, the lack of guidance I was given felt a little intimidating.
There was also a complimentary bottle of Champagne and a bouquet of flowers in the room from Cunard’s press team. (For full disclosure, Insider paid for the cruise ticket, per our reporting standards.)
Just a few moments later, I met Bert, a housekeeping assistant, who instantly made me feel welcome. He showed me around the room and said he would be there to get anything I need throughout the voyage.
I felt a little overwhelmed, but I knew the only way to tackle it was to start exploring right away.
As I explored other areas of the ship, I noticed more people in the bar and restaurant areas — but due to the ship’s 60% capacity, these areas weren’t as busy as they likely could have been before the pandemic.
This might be a surprise to some, since the cruise line is owned by Carnival in the US.
But Cunard couldn’t be more different from its American counterpart, according to the YouTuber and cruise expert Emma Cruises.
“Carnival is the spring break crowd, whereas Cunard is the afternoon tea crowd,” she told me over the phone before I set sail.
I found plenty of tributes to the royals, including portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, as well as the Cunard logo which features a crown symbol.
Children aged between 12 and 17 in the UK can only get a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if they have a serious health problem, according to The Sun.
I’m 25 and am yet to meet many passengers in my age group — but that hasn’t stopped me from making friends.
I met Jannet Russell, 70, and Celia Steel, 78, at a solo traveler meet-up organized by Cunard on Thursday morning.
Now that I’m on the ship, there doesn’t seem to be a strict mask-wearing rule in place (or at least I haven’t been told of one), however, I’ve noticed most people still wear them while walking around.
One night in, the voyage has exceeded expectations — and there are still four nights left.