Travel is Back – And it Could Be Safer Than Ever!

Hello, Living in Oakland Park readers! My name is Polly Hemstock and I am a travel agent, living and working here in Oakland Park. I will be writing a regular column on Travel for Living in Oakland Park.

Are you as ready as I am to get back to travel now that things are opening up? I have made several trips over the past six months; work related (yeah, I know…) family visits, and just for fun.. I have been to Disney World parks, an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and most recently New York. Here is what it was like:

Airports and Flying

Be prepared to wear your mask, fully covering your mouth and nose, while in the terminal and on the plane. We flew on a smaller jet, an Embraer E190, which had 2 seats on each side of the aisle, so no middle seats. We were assured that the air in the plane is exchanged with fresh air every 3 minutes and there is a HEPA grade filtration. There was some inflight service – beverages and snacks, and like restaurants, you were able to remove your mask while eating and drinking. Attendants were vigilant abut proper mask usage. There are no Covid testing requirements in the US at this point.

Staying at an All-Inclusive Resort

We were lucky enough to be invited to visit Beaches Negril in Jamaica in December. Protocols then were no middle seats booked on our flights, and there were limited numbers of groups on the shuttles to the resort. We had to take a Covid test 72 hours before we left and fill out some forms on the Jamaica Tourism website. Many Caribbean islands still have this type of requirement – check well before you travel so you have all your ducks in a row.

Resort staff all wore masks and guests were asked to wear them indoors also. Fortunately, we spent a great deal of time outdoors, so we were able to go mask-less. Food service was as expected, guests needing to wear masks indoors except while seated actively eating or drinking. Outdoor dining venues and bars were exempt from the mask rules.

And what everyone wants to know – what about the buffets? The buffet was in a separate room from the open-air dining room. Staff wearing masks and gloves showed you what was available and served you whatever you wanted, as much as you wanted and as many times as you wanted. Individual desserts were available for your selection as well. Same great enjoyment, without having to serve yourself. And all the food was really good!

Walt Disney World

We made several trips to Orlando, visiting Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Park attendance continues to be by reservation for ticket holders and annual passholders, and reservations should be made well in advance, especially for Magic Kingdom.

During the pandemic and early opening, masks were required throughout the park, as well as social distancing. As you would expect, Disney was great about enforcing the rules. As restrictions eased, mask rules also changed. Now masks are required for all guests while in Disney buses, monorail, and Disney Skyliner. Masks are optional in most areas for guests who are fully vaccinated.

While Disney does not require proof of vaccination, guests who are not fully vaccinated are expected to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation except ferry boats. Some of the attractions were and remain closed, there were no character meet & greets and there were no parades or evening fireworks/laser shows.

The parades have been replaced by “drive-bys” especially the Princesses and the usual assortment of characters. The good news is nighttime fireworks and light/laser shows are returning starting July 1. Disney Springs is also fully reopening and soon there will be few if any masks requirements or temperature checks.

New York

We were in Westchester County, just north of NYC. Masks rules there have recently been eased. Be aware that masks are still required on all forms of public transit in New York. We took a trip out to the Art Deco amusement park, Playland (remember the scenes with the fortune teller machine from Big?), where the park was getting ready to open the next week. We walked all along the boardwalk on the perimeter of the park and saw them working on many of the rides, including the Dragon Coaster, the Derby Racer, and the Grand Carousel. Playland reopened officially June 26, so if you are a wooden roller coaster fan, time to head North. The Park was decked out for Pride month, and the beach was open. All sure signs of summer in New York.

Follow Polly

If you like what you read, you can also follow me at AdventuresbyPolly.com or on Facebook at Adventures with Polly – Cruise Planners or Instagram @advwithpolly or email your questions or comments to polly.hemstock@cruiseplaners.com Happy travels! Watch for my next column soon –
Cruising is Back!

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Polly Hemstock

Polly Hemstock

Polly Hemstock is a franchise owner and independent agent of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. Polly has spent a lifetime cultivating her passion for food, wine, and travel. She is an avid traveler, retired chef/restaurateur, and a Certified Specialist of Wine.

She was born in New England and has lived most of her life on the East Coast, retiring to Florida about 5 years ago. Polly came out of retirement to become a travel agent, inspired by years of cruising, much of it from Fort Lauderdale. She enjoys all types of food and wine, cooking and dining out. Before becoming a chef, she worked in food science and technology, developing products for General Foods.

Polly obtained her culinary education at The New York Restaurant School, and had a 10 year career as a chef, followed by work as a sales representative for a gourmet food supplier and a wine distributor. While working in the wine industry, she traveled to the wine regions of California, Oregon, Argentina and Chile.

She has traveled extensively in the US including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Canada, much of the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil and the Mediterranean. Find Polly at AdventuresbyPolly.com or on Facebook at Adventures with Polly – Cruise Planners or Instagram @advwithpolly. Email your questions or comments to polly.hemstock@cruiseplaners.com or call 954-702-0040.

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