Walking out onto the soft white sands of Elbow Beach in Bermuda, gazing out at the beautiful surf just beyond, I was reminded of just how long it had been since I last swan in the ocean. Much too long, and for that reason, this beach swim was all the more appreciated.

Viking Orion cruise ship

Explorers Lounge on the Viking Orion

In early September, I had the privilege of travelling again by cruise ship to Bermuda aboard the Viking Orion. I accentuate the word ‘privilege’ as this was a special travel experience, during a unique time for travel. Ours was the only ship in Bermuda and so there were few other tourists here, no traffic and no crowds at the beach. The weather was glorious, the sea was warm and at times, it felt as though we were experiencing a private island retreat.

This was a unique itinerary as we stayed in Bermuda for the entire week. Our ship was docked in Hamilton upon arrival before sailing to the Royal Naval Dockyard and returning to Hamilton with a day at sea between each port. This provided us with the opportunity for a leisurely exploration of the islands. The intimate size of the Viking Orion only accentuated the luxurious and exclusive feel of this getaway. With reduced capacity, we enjoyed even more private space than usual around the pool, the restaurants and bars and lounges. Every aspect of the vacation felt like a normal cruise experience: the staff was wonderful and efficient; the food was superb, and the end result was a week of relaxation in one of the world’s premier vacation destinations.

Viking Orion cruise ship

A Viking deluxe veranda stateroom

Yes, travel is a bit different today than it was before: guests travelling to Bermuda require a negative PCR test and must be fully vaccinated, and a form must be completed before departure. On the one hand, these extra steps are a nuisance, but it also brought peace of mind knowing that every other person on our flight had to meet the same requirements. Had we not had a completed form at the airport in Toronto, our luggage would not have been allowed to be checked-in. We showed our documents again upon arrival in Bermuda where we had to submit to another PCR test. An additional step, yes, but again one that made us feel safer. With the blue waters and palm trees within view of where we stood in line, it was worth it.

Once we arrived on board the ship, we became acquainted with Viking’s onboard protocols, which includes daily onboard testing. Early on, it was recognised that this was the best way to stop any potential viral spread onboard the ships and so facilities were constructed, with results available within 3-4 hours. Each guest is also provided with a contact-tracing device, with the aim of containing any outbreak should one develop. Viking has also implemented new air purification technology and sanitation measures.

Viking Orion cruise ship

The on-board Infinity Pool

Everyday testing for all passengers is expensive but as a guest, these steps provided me with peace of mind as our sailing proceeded without a single case being detected during our seven-day cruise. Another benefit of every day testing is that Viking provided us with a complimentary PCR test certificate needed for our return home to Canada.

The cruise industry is moving forward with a progressively increasing number of ships sailing at reduced capacity with new health and safety protocols designed to make your cruise experience as safe as possible.

This is a special time for travelling, an opportunity to experience destinations differently and safely. For more information about Viking Cruises, please visit: www.vikingcruisescanada.com

Sean Flynn is the co-owner (with his sister Kelly) of four Expedia Cruises locations in Montreal, Dorval, DDO and Kirkland

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