Derek and I recently got to take the first real vacation that we have been on since 2019.  We sailed on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship on a 4-night trip from Port Canaveral.  So, I know that might sound crazy to some of you with everything that is going on around us, but it was just a fantastic trip.. 

                The Bahamas will not allow a cruise ship to dock on any of its islands with a single unvaccinated passenger or crew person on board, so prior to arriving at the port, we were each required to upload our vaccination cards as part of the check in process.  When we arrived at the terminal, we unloaded our bags and then everyone (regardless of age or vaccine status) was given a rapid covid test in the parking garage.  Derek and I swabbed our own noses and handed the test tubes through the vehicle window to the technician.  We then waited in our car in the garage for about an hour as the tests were processed.  They have a website that you log into to get your results and once you are cleared to board the ship you head into the terminal. 

                The check-in was very simple.  We held our passports up to a plexiglass window, had our carry-on bags scanned and then we headed onto the ship.  The stateroom keys were hanging on the door of our stateroom.  You literally don’t touch or exchange anything with anyone through the process.  Well, now I can’t say you don’t exchange anything, the smiles on the eyes of the crew welcoming you on board has to count for something.  I have never seen people more excited to have guests on board than the crew of the Disney Fantasy. 

                Nothing reminds you more that people need people then walking from the gang plank into the lobby of the ship.  The greeting from the crew was the sincerest greeting that either of us could remember in the last few years.  It was the most normal I have felt about taking a vacation since 2019.  They have adjusted the capacity of the ship to allow for social distancing and face masks are required in in-door locations, but other than that, once you are on board it is smooth sailing.

                The ship sailed to Disney’s Castaway Cay Island where we spent two days.  If you have never been there, it is paradise and we highly recommend it.  On the morning of the second day we were docked at the island; Derek and I went to breakfast before departing the ship.  Our server’s name was Kwan and she was from Thailand.  She asked us what we did on our first day on the island.  We told her that we did one of our favorite activities, we rode bikes out to the observation tower in the center of the island.  We love it because Castaway Cay is extraordinarily flat and when you are in the interior of the island you can only really see about 12 feet around you because of the dense foliage.  The observation tower only goes up about thirty feet, but from the top you can see the entire island around you.  Kwan loved our story and she shared with us the many adventures she and her family in Thailand had been through in the last year and a half.  She was so grateful to be back to work and at the end of breakfast she thanked us for talking with her and letting her practice her English.

Derek and I engaged quite a few of the crew in conversations about the last year and a half, and kind of like climbing that tower, it gave us a much broader perspective of how the world is trying to pull itself back together. In each story there was an abundance of gratitude and smiling eyes. I can’t imagine a better way to re-connect with each other.

Sincerely – Mark Ramey