We departed from Rome to head to Civitavecchia on the morning of October 7 with our prearranged driver, Guido. That was an adventure. We had learned on our previous trip to Villa Adriana that when driving in Italy lines on the road and speed limits were often ignored. Guido drove down the freeway straddling the line going well over the speed limit...while on his phone most of the time. I was blissfully unaware of the phone issue, since I was sitting behind Guido, but Greg was not. He got us to the port safely and offered his services when we returned. We said we would think about it. (A little glimpse into the future: We did book him. It's kind of like childbirth. You quickly forget your discomfort!)
We were about to board our friend, the Celebrity Reflection. This was our third cruise on this ship. Not because we would seek it out, but it just seems to always have an itinerary we really like. Since this was our first post COVID cruise, we were curious how much things would be the same or different. The first big difference we noticed was no lineups to board. It was amazing! Very organized. We showed our COVID test, our passport, dropped off our bags and went on board. In the past, I had to carry my heavy camera backpack around with me to our Concierge lunch and we wouldn't be allowed in our rooms until they were ready. Often several hours later. This time we were allowed to go straight to our room and drop everything off. Then we headed to our lovely lunch.
The first thing that hadn't changed was the dining room seating arrangements. The tables were very close together, which we appreciate since it allows for socializing with your neighbours.
Another big change was the safety demo and muster point meeting. It was mostly done on our phone. We had to watch a video on how to put on a life jacket, do a bit of reading, then do a quiz. Lastly, we had to check in at our muster point. It was like a game. Much better than everyone crammed into a small space (the muster point) and having to stand while the crew went through all the safety protocols.
The captain announced that the cruise was only at 60% capacity. I don't know if the ship was maxxed out at 60% due to COVID or if people are still reluctant to travel, especially on a cruise ship. As a result, the theatre was, at least for the early show, mostly empty and there were no lineups most times for anything we wanted to do. Bonus for us!
The first night at our favourite predinner drink spot, the World Bar, we met a friendly fellow who eventually asked us if we were on board for the Abraham-Hicks workshops. We asked him who that was, and he vaguely described the sessions as being motivational in nature. Of course, the first thing Greg and I did later was Google Abraham-Hicks. Hmm not much came up except the name Esther Hicks. Check out her Wikipedia page here. It seems that Esther and the group channel entities collectively named Abraham to guide their lives. There were between 800 and 1000 people on board attending the workshops. (That was the range given to us by attendees) This number is plausible since they filled the theatre which has a capacity of 1,100 people.
Cruise ships have a lot of wackadoodle stuff on them that Greg and I just ignore. For example, Celebrity has a working relationship with Gwenyth Paltrow's goop. Their advertising states, "We’re Taking Well-being to the Next Level with goop". But this was a whole new level of insanity, in our view. The Abraham-Hicks people were lovely, and we enjoyed talking to them, but we could see how their way of thinking could be harmful. From what they said and what I have researched, an oversimplified summary would be that all you have to do is think positively and good will come to you in the form of success, happiness, and money. And if this doesn't happen, they just didn't do things correctly. It is their own fault. Sound like "The Secret"? Yup. Esther has an association with that Oprah/Rhonda Byrne craziness. I witnessed a woman who, to me, clearly needed professional help but probably wouldn't get it because she will be sucked into the infinite loop of trying to better herself by paying to go to more workshops. I won't say more...I am researching to write an article about the group. It is a fascinating story that started in 1985! Oh, and I should add. The group seems to really like Celebrity cruises. As we do. They book regularly with them. In fact, Greg and I are going on a Sydney, Australia/ New Zealand cruise (that was cancelled during the pandemic) and the group is doing the same cruise...but at a different time. That would have been amusing if we had ended up on two cruises in a row with them. Maybe Abraham is trying to tell us something?!
Some pictures from our first day on the cruise ship: