It’s been nearly two years since a cruise ship has docked in NSW and 76 year-old Ken Hodson and his wife Joy don’t want to wait any longer.
They are heading from their home in Wollongong to Fort Lauderdale in Florida to board a 136-day cruise with Viking.
Mr Hodson and his wife first did a cruise around Fiji a few years ago and fast became hooked to the cruising lifestyle, even keeping an online blog of their adventures.
“Some time ago we did a little cruise around Fiji and the Islands, then we started cruising for real in 2016.”
“Mostly Princess but we’ve also been on Carnival. We’ve been on cruises to Hong Kong, Vancouver and Alaska and we did a world cruise in 2018 for a bit over three months with Princess.”
“Now we’re going with Viking from Fort Lauderdale, it goes around most of the world then ends in Bergen in Norway.”
The couple had another upcoming cruise with Princess that had been cancelled and were delighted to find out their up Viking voyage was still going ahead.
Mr Hodson says reading reviews for Viking and their website, he’ll feel completely safe on the ship.
“They’ve got a PCR lab on board and test you everyday, they’ve got robots that run around at night with UV lights, everyone has to be vaccinated, it’s half the usual passengers so there’s more room, they’re doing plenty to keep us safe.”
“We’ve been getting all the documents we’ll need to have, the only thing we need to get before we go is the virus test, which it appears the best place to get it is at the airport. Then Viking have a few more surveys we have to fill out before we go.”
Mr Hodson said it was a tricky decision to commit to the cruise, with both nerves and excitement playing a part.
“It’s a bit of both, it’s exciting to get away but there are some unknowns and we’re just working through that.”
“The pandemic is risky, they’ve removed some of the areas we wanted to go to and it’s still fluid. The main worry is what happens if we get the virus while we’re away.”
Before the NSW lockdown the couple were on a road trip to Queensland which Mr Hodson described as “feeling like a foreign country” after being stuck so long and were forced to cut their trip short by lockdown.”
Now more than anything, as avid travellers, the pair are really just excited to start exploring again.
“I’ve never been to Israel so I’m looking forward to going there, I haven’t been to Greece so there also, I’m mostly looking forward to visiting places I haven’t been to before.”
“I love lectures. I love hearing special interest lectures or lectures about the ports. I love just meeting people and sitting down talking about where we’re going and I love board games, there’s plenty on board.”
“In 2019 we did half a world cruise to England then caught the train up to Edinburgh, hired a car and drove round for months. So we’re used to being away for a while.”
Cruise Passenger will be wishing these two good luck as they make us all envious yet proud on their first cruise back.