School has started back for most of the country, we took Cara to Young Harris over the weekend and had a wonderful visit with new suite mate and her cat! They are so excited about this year, I just pray that we can visit them on campus and attend concerts, competitions and performances in person!! I pray for as close to a normal school year for all students, I think after the last year and half we need something that looks like normal!
Flying Into Greece
Covid restrictions are coming back from retirement. As the Delta variant makes its way around the world, more variants could be on the horizon and travel will be impacted. Stay with MackeyMouse Travel to find out what we know and how we can help navigate these treacherous waters.
As you know, we recently went to Greece for an amazing adventure! I want to share the covid restrictions we experienced and some that friends of mine had that were different.
First, we are vaccinated, think what you will, but we chose vaccination so we can attend any performances of Cara’s in the future and I assumed we would need to be to cruise. Most cruise lines do require vaccinated guests. Greece has their own requirements to enter the country. We had to follow guidelines for entering Greece, boarding the ship and returning to the U.S. All were slightly different and we jumped through every hoop gladly!!
Entering Greece, we had a choice, we could be fully vaccinated or we could provide a negative covid-19 test within 3 days of arriving in the country. The country has created an easy online form to fill out and upload our documents so we don’t have to worry about carrying and showing all of these different documents to officials after landing. This was great, except at the time we went, we wouldn’t get confirmation (the barcode) we needed until we were in-flight, which meant you couldn’t print it!! You had to have wifi to show the actual PDF barcode. I knew we wouldn’t have that upon landing so I took a screen shot on my phone. Sadly, it was that simple, we just showed them the barcode and went on.
Since returning home, Greek authorities have updated this process to send you the barcode before you depart so that you can print the document and present it when you land. I will say, the “authorities” were not really checking this document (screenshot) that closely. Sadly, they didn’t have the capacity to make sure it was legit, but maybe with this more streamlined process, they can check documents quicker and more thoroughly.
Getting into Greece was quite easy, airlines don’t make it hard, but we did have to show our proof of vaccination at check in (or negative covid test) to fly internationally. This is more of a proactive move on the part of airlines since you do have to have a negative covid test upon return to the U.S. It is required that you wear a face covering as soon as you enter the airport and throughout your flight. There is no time in the airport you can take your mask off, except to actively eat. Otherwise, you must be masked up.
We’ve all seen the videos of people being taken off of planes for not following this mandate, or even for mouthing off about it. I will be 100% honest with you, my anxiety was high because I was nervous about someone showing out in the airport or on the plane. Thankfully, we were incident free roundtrip
Wearing a mask on a 10 hour flight and then on the return 12 hour flight was not hard but not easy. We chose paper masks so that we could easily replace them if they were dirty or “got lost” somehow. I’m glad we did. It’s a thinner material and definitely easier for me since I’m so hot natured. If you are cold natured having a face covering will definitely help keep you warmer! I saw many hoodies up with masks, eye masks and blankets on our flights! I’m not able to do that because I will sweat to death!!
The struggle with masks on planes, in my opinion, is the tiny amount of space you have in your seat and in the restrooms. As you may or may not know, I have back issues including arthritis. When it’s cold it aggravates it more. Sitting for extended periods causes more pain. So the restroom was a respite from sitting and gave me the opportunity to stand up and let my back stretch out a bit. But I could take the mask off and breathe freely for a minute.
One thing I do need to mention is most airlines are experiencing delays. With covid restrictions for HR and in general crews can’t turn planes around as quickly as before, staffing issues do exist even for airlines and flight crews have time guidelines crews may have to swapped out.
We had a 4 hour delay leaving Atlanta, mechanical delay followed by a crew delay. You need to travel with your patience and flexibility. We had snacks and devices so we plugged in, talked and watched tiktoks for 4 hours! I promise it’s not the end of the world. I did have to change our first day plans and it caused us to miss several things we were very excited about, but in the big picture, it didn’t ruin anything.
Cruise Line Guidelines
Our cruise was through a Greek based company and not mainstream that you may be used to. That said, our guidelines we had to follow may be different than U.S. based lines.
In order to board the cruise we had to have a negative PCR covid-19 test. It could not be a rapid test. It also had to be within 72 hours of boarding the ship, not just 3 days. They were very strict on the 72 hour timeline which was tricky for those coming in from the U.S. and able to test before leaving home. We were able to schedule a medical group to come to our hotel and test us and email us the results. Our hotel would print the results if we had asked, but having the email was enough proof for the cruise line.
Once we were at the pier we checked in first with our PCR test results and were required to wear a mask while in line outside. We also had a contact form we had to complete for the cruise line and at a separate desk we supplied this information.
Once we were finished dropping our bags, we moved on to the temperature check table where we were provided a number to be called to have a rapid test done. The cruise line provided this test for us and it was a quick process, probably 30 minutes total.
From there we moved inside to check in to get our key card and set up our onboard spending account. We received a lanyard with a contact tracing chip on it. This was in case anyone tested positive they could quarantine those that were close to that passenger. I was a bit nervous by this because 500 people were on that ship, we were going to be around people no matter what we did. But, anything to travel again!!
We were required to wear masks on the ship and on excursions. We could remove them if we were eating or on deck socially distanced. They also had a touch-less temperature check set up on each deck that we were supposed to check in by noon each day. We would lower our mask, and tap our key card to take our temp and it would automatically update our folio that we had complied.
Hand sanitizer was everywhere or our use. In restaurants on shore they’d often times give you a small bottle at your table. They were really trying to keep everyone safe and keep tourism open!
The day before we were to depart the ship we were required to take another rapid test. Quick and easy, results were provided in our stateroom that evening so we could have it for check in at the airport the next day. These results were good for 3 days so as long as you left in that time frame, you would not need another test to fly home.
My Thoughts on the Experience
All in all I felt like we were well taking care of and safe. There were times things would slip below the protocol but for the most part it was consistent and followed. I do feel like the Greek’s for the most part did what needed to be done to have their cities open again. They had been shut completely down for 14 months. They were grateful to be working again and more than grateful Americans were visiting!
During our trip, we mostly met other Americans. Europeans were still under stricter guidelines so you’d see one or two but absolutely no British citizens. British citizens still had to quarantine when they arrived home from Greece at that point so in speaking with a tour guide, they haven’t had many coming because who can afford to do that?!
I also think now more than ever, using a travel agent is important. You can be as organized as Marie Kondo but regulations are changing rapidly. We had changes happening throughout the week. Mykonos went on more strict guidelines while we were there and about 3 days after we arrived home they had shut down night clubs and bars with no music allowed. Having someone at home that can make changes while you are in route is absolutely the best safety net!
While you are on the plane, I can be adjusting your transfer to the hotel, I can let the hotel know you will be 4 hours later do not give your room away, I can let the medical company know that is supposed to be at the hotel shortly after you arrive to come later. So many times everything is smooth with no hiccups, but when they aren’t it can be a hard adjustment.
It is my job to know all of the guidelines. It’s your job to make memories and have the time of your life! Now, where can I send you?