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Travel agent dishes on recent cruising experience

After two years of being denied her usual diet of travel experiences, personal travel manager Rose Febo was more than ready 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 explains. 


“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 says the pre-departure procedures were thorough but straightforward, with numerous forms to complete including obtaining a doctor’s clearance.


“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. 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% 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 adds.


Febo says the precautions taken by APT before and during the cruise ensured the safety of all. Although masks were not required to be worn by guests, she says food and beverage serving staff were required to wear masks and she felt very comfortable and safe at all times. 


“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.”


Once aboard, Febo and her fellow guests were free to settle into life on board their ship as it made its way up to the Cape York tip and then back down the coast to Brisbane, calling in at remote islands and historic ports along the way.


“MS Caledonian Sky isn’t your typical luxury small-ship,” Febo notes. “She is a small expedition ship, hearty and full of character, and was a fabulous home for twelve nights. I love cruising for so many reasons: unpacking just once, waking up in a different location every day, plus it’s all-inclusive and a closed travel bubble.”



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. An exceptional captain and eleven-person Expedition team accompanied by a wonderful crew ensured that Febo and her cruise-mates had the best possible experience both afloat and on land.


“We were even taken on a nature walk that led us across rocky terrain to the very tip of Cape York, where we toasted our achievement with glasses of champagne,” she grins. 


“Throughout the journey we were spoilt not just by the incredible crew but also with insanely perfect weather and sailing conditions.  At the conclusion of the cruise, I stepped ashore with new friendships, loads of new memories, and a sense of rejuvenation that felt like the perfect payoff for two years in pandemic-mode.”


Febo, a CLIA Master and cruise specialist, documented every leg of her journey in a blog which she published upon her return and says the response from her client base has been enthusiastic – she says many of her customers share her love of cruise holidays.



“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.


She notes that APT can offer cruise holidays in Australian waters because it's an Australian-owned company, meets the requisite percentage of Australian crew, and sails with fewer than 99 guests. With more APT cruises scheduled from March onwards, Febo says she’s encouraging her cruise-craving clients to book now to avoid missing out.


Having had a taste of travel in a post-COVID world, Febo says 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.”


“I’m already noticing an increase in demand for my services from customers who have previously preferred to make their own travel plans,” she adds. 


“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.”


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Published: 23 January 2022

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