- Halee Whiting, 32, lives in Rochester, New York, and loves cruises – she says she’s been on 15.
- She’s embarking on Royal Caribbean’s Bahamas cruise and is excited to reconnect with cruise buddies.
- She said it was a no-brainer to book the trip. Here’s her story, as told to Jamie Killin.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
I’m taking my first post-pandemic cruise this month out of the Nassau Cruise Port in the Bahamas on the Adventure of the Seas ship – and I’m so excited.
The seven-day cruise will stop at Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay, as well as Grand Bahama Island and Cozumel, Mexico.
I love to travel, and I know there are a lot of people that think cruising is kind of corny – or young kids are calling it “cheugy” these days – but I love a cruise. The feeling of just sitting on my balcony and listening to the ocean is everything, and it’s such a social experience.
I’ve probably cruised about 15 times.
The majority of my cruises have been on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, but I’ve also done Carnival and Princess.
I’ve done Alaska, I’ve done pretty much every inch of the Caribbean, and probably my favorite cruise was on the Celebrity Solstice – I did a repositioning cruise, a cruise that embarks from a different location than where it ends, from Hawaii to Vancouver in May 2019, and that was just amazing.
I had no hesitation booking my cruise, and I think that’s partially because I come from the hospitality industry working with hotels.
Some people assume bed bugs started in hotels, but they’re actually brought in by people, and I think a lot of the sanitation issues aren’t just on the cruise line themselves. It requires everyone that’s going on them to be respectful and do their part.
Getting vaccinated also took a lot of stress off of the situation.
Even before COVID-19, on any ship I’ve ever been on they’re just cleaning constantly. I don’t really have that concern of getting sick because I think they’ve put some good procedures in place. They sent emails beforehand with information on their safety precautions as well as how to get tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding. I’m definitely ready.
I also have a travel blog, Halee with a Flair, on the side, so it made sense for me in a lot of ways.
When COVID-19 hit, it was hard for me.
Since my main career is in the hotel industry, it felt like everything was caving down on me at once. Initially, we didn’t think it was going to last as long as it did.
My best friend is actually a travel agent who specializes in cruises and all-exclusives, and we were all like, “Okay, we’re going to quarantine,” but then we booked a Memorial Day cruise thinking by then it would be over.
Then that was canceled, and I had two other cruises, one booked for the end of 2020 in the Caribbean with my daughter and one originally booked for the end of March in the Western Mediterranean. I didn’t think it was going to be quite as devastating as it was.
I ended up being laid off and had to start my own hotel sales consultation company, Hospitality with a Flair, which was crazy.
I’ve met a good chunk of people whom I would call some of my best friends while cruising.
We all hang out, and now we have a travel group on Facebook with 400 people in it.
We were all cruising together three times a year in some capacity, so a lot of us haven’t seen each other in over a year and a half now, so this is going to kind of be a big homecoming, with 25 of my friends from the group traveling on this cruise.
I’m also super happy that the cruise is letting us pick our own excursions because I try to really pick ones that benefit local people and businesses.
Two of the port days are at the cruise line’s private island, which I’ve been to twice before, so we don’t have a whole lot planned there except for snorkeling and enjoying being on that beautiful island they’ve built. It’s got a lazy river and all kinds of things – it’s gorgeous.
Then in Cozumel, we’re actually renting two Jeeps from a little local rental-car place and driving around to some of our favorite local bars and restaurants and just spending money locally to help get some of the cruise-port islands back on their feet.
Cozumel, for example, I’ve read is used to getting more than three-and-a-half million cruise passengers a year, and to go to nothing is hard.
I’ve been at least half a dozen times and just love that island, and the people are wonderful. We might also snorkel a bit too, because I met a guy down there who has a great local company. We’re really just trying to give back to this industry that we love.
My best friend and I also host a show on Tuesdays that we call “Today in Travel,” where we go live on YouTube and Facebook, and one of the things we talk about is if you’re going to go on these cruises, just remember how kind and amazing the personnel on these ships are – and that since these ships aren’t full, give a little extra if you can. On our cruise, there’s only about 1,200 people on board, when capacity is typically 3,900 guests.
I’m very excited for my cruise in August, too: The Celebrity Edge.
I’ll be departing from Fort Lauderdale and going to Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
It’s a new class of ship for Celebrity Cruises and a new ship for me to try, and I’m so excited to take my daughter on it because that ship is being captained by Captain Kate, who’s one of the first female captains in the cruise industry. It has a new exclusive area called The Retreat Lounge and the Magic Carpet venue that slides up and down the side of the ship. It’s just beautiful.
For that one, it’s not really about the itinerary – it’s about the ship.
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