After two years of being denied her usual travel escapades, this Queensland-based travel agent had the opportunity to dust off her suitcase and give travellers confidence by sharing her experience.
TravelManager’s personal travel manager, Rose Febo over the moon when the opportunity arose to join a thirteen-day Queensland Reef and Island Discovery cruise aboard APT’S luxury expedition cruise vessel, the MS Caledonian Sky.
“As an owner of a small boutique travel business, COVID-19 has been the source of major disruption to my life and my business,” Febo said.
“Many businesses have closed or been forced into hibernation, but I have refused to give up on my passion for travel and so, after two years of staying at home, I leapt at this chance.”’
In early December, Febo, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Hawthorne, QLD, flew from Brisbane to Cairns to embark on her first major travel experience in 24 months.
She said the pre-departure procedures were thorough but straightforward, with numerous forms to complete including obtaining a doctor’s clearance.
Febo, a CLIA Master and cruise specialist, documented every leg of her journey in a blog that she published upon her return and said the response from her client base —which is just as cruise-crazy as she is— has been enthusiastic.
“Like me, they have been unable to indulge that passion, so they were happy to travel vicariously through me!” Febo believes supporting the cruise and travel industries is vital, and the government needs to provide clear cut-cut guidelines for larger vessels and foreign-flagged ships so they can safely recommence cruising.
“APT’s pre-departure communication was very comprehensive. We were sent several emails beforehand, with clear, three-step instructions that needed to be complied with, or risk being denied boarding,” she explained.
“Every passenger and crew member were double vaccinated, which was very reassuring.”
According to Febo, passengers were required to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure, and at check-in prior to boarding, they were required to provide a further declaration and have their temperatures taken.
“Aside from the comprehensive health checks, it was also reassuring to know that, had one of our tests returned as positive, although we would have been asked to go into isolation and would have missed the cruise, 100 per cent of the cruise fare would have been placed into credit or we would have been rebooked onto another APT journey of our choice, free of charge,” she added.
“During our shore excursions, no masks were required, although we carried them with us and did use QR check-in at some spots like Cooktown and Magnetic Island. Our temperatures were taken religiously every morning by the nurse and our cabins ticked off. There was also a doctor and ‘hospital’ on board.”
The cruise itinerary included stops at Cooktown, Lady Musgrave Island, the Whitsundays and K’Gari (Fraser Island), with Zodiacs providing access to otherwise hard-to-reach spots.
Having had a taste of travel in a post-COVID world, Febo said she is excited by further travel plans she has in the pipeline.
“I’m eager to travel back to Europe as soon as feasible, to run my gourmet ‘At My Italian Table’ small group journeys. Within Australia, I’m planning a series of women’s small group immersive luxury journeys,” she added.
“I’m already noticing an increase in demand for my services from customers who have previously preferred to make their own travel plans.
“With so much uncertainty around ever-changing rules and restrictions for different destinations, they are looking for an experienced travel expert to look after them. For my part, I’m over the moon to be talking about, and making, travel plans once again.”