In Search of the "Cruise Ship Sparkle" Post-Pandemic

UK Travel Blogger Becky The Owlet on a balcony on board Princess Cruises Regal Princess

Hey Owlets,

If you read my post a few weeks ago you’ll know that I’ve been really struggling to find the motivation with my blog in the last few months. While I started my blog in 2016, it was in 2017 after just one chance encounter and an unplanned cruise got me hooked on travel that The Owlet was really born. For three glorious years I got to travel, see more of what was on my doorstep and what was further afield and I could finally say that I was doing something I loved. So in 2020 when my wings were unexpectedly clipped and I found myself tethered to a two mile radius in a seaside town that no one has ever heard of, I lost my “why”. It’s understandable - when your whole personality revolves around a love of exploring and adventure, a 2 mile radius is never going to be enough to fulfil you - anyway, how do you write about travel if no one is allowed to do it anymore?

One of the things I found hardest was not being able to cruise, so when the opportunity finally came up to be able to get back to doing what I love most I was more than a little surprised to find myself apprehensive. I’ve long spoken about the magic of cruising where everything feels like it’s straight out of a fairytale and you’re the princess. I love being able to make friends with guests and crew and see new places knowing that at the end of the day I get to re-board my floating home and quite literally sail into the sunset for the next destination.

Post-pandemic I honestly thought that the magic of cruising would still be in quarantine. If everyone has to wear a mask, keep their distance and stick within their own bubbles how can the atmosphere that made cruising so special still exist? I watched so many of my cruise blogger friends sailing and I still held off, but when Princess Cruises asked if I would like to join them on board Regal Princess I was hardly going to say no, was I? It sounds terrible but to be fully transparent it doesn’t matter as much if the magic isn’t there if you’re not sinking a year’s worth of savings into one trip. With my first cruise back falling into the “work” category, the pressure was off for it to be perfect - turned out it didn’t matter.

Travel Blogger Becky The Owlet on board Regal Princess

From the second I walked up the gangway to be greeted by crew members waving flags and welcoming you “home” and felt the familiar butterflies in my stomach when you see the first sparkles of the atrium, I realised that it might not be so different after all.

I sat down at the cafe next to the gangway, ordered my favourite cruise ship drink and took in my new surroundings with my jaw firmly on the floor, as multiple guests walked past and said hello to me. Yes it was from a metre away and with masks on, but the happy atmosphere that I so fondly remembered from my previous cruises seemed to have been waiting on board for us this whole time.

When we got into our cabin the usual friendly cabin steward came to greet us to ask if we needed anything. We headed up to top deck for sail away to join a sea of smiling faces - of which I was definitely one (bonus points - I finally managed to drag Jack on a cruise with me!!). We watched the cheesy entertainment, ordered our next cocktail and basked in the sunshine as we watched Southampton getting smaller in the distance.

The next five days were a total blur. We laughed with the crew, had incredible conversations with other guests, made friends, watched amazing entertainment and not at any point did the smile fade. 

Regal Princess cruise ship Top Deck at sail away

I always find that on your last morning the magic disembarks the ship before you do - the waiters that you’ve made friends with are suddenly too preoccupied to talk to you and you can just about get a piece of gluten free toast for breakfast as the crew try to hurry you off the ship. On our last morning aboard Regal however, the crew came to find us to say goodbye. I was brought a selection of gluten free pastries, my “normal” breakfast was prepared for me as soon as I walked in and a coffee arrived without me ordering it because they paid such close attention that I didn’t need to ask. We chatted to the crew, enjoyed the view and relaxed for a precious last few hours before needing to check back into reality. 

We landed back down to Earth with a huge bump, thanks to GWR’s plethora of cancelled trains and the COVID breeding ground that formed in the one remaining train’s overstuffed coaches. Despite this, every time I looked down at the flowers I’d smuggled from our cabin or caught sight of the lanyard hanging out of my bag the smile went straight back to the level it was on board.

This isn’t an ad for Princess- that’s the review that I haven’t gotten around to writing yet, although this is probably as good an endorsement as any. This is simply me acknowledging that I was very much wrong about the return to cruising and happy to be so. We might have been away for two years but the magic never left, and even as I write this almost a month later the smile still hasn’t faded. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering I’ve booked another cruise…

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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