The world of online gaming has become more and more competitive, with the rise of esports. However, the threat of hackers is still very real, putting players at risk. Companies like Covid are looking to change that by creating a safer environment for gamers to enjoy their favorite games.
The Fortress of St. Nicholas in Sibenik, Croatia.
Katrina Gulliver (photo)
Try going on a trip, as I did recently, if you believe Covid limitations are too onerous. The Adriatic shore was gorgeous, and the personnel was kind, however the Covid regulations were strange. To board, we all had to provide proof of vaccination. However, the cruise company insisted on a daily PCR test and temperature checks, as well as the wearing of a tracking device—a tiny medallion on a necklace that was linked to the ship’s computer. Despite this, we were instructed to wear masks in all communal areas of the ship, including outside and on ashore walking tours.
I traveled on Viking, and although the regulations differ somewhat from line to line, the vaccine and mask requirements are standard for European vacations. The fact that different regulations apply at different ports and for travelers based on citizenship or residence adds to the confusion. Our trip in Montenegro had to be canceled due to UK “red list” rules: any British tourists who visit a country on the list are required to stay in a hotel quarantine upon their return, at their own cost. The shifting list of at-risk nations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused anxiety among Americans about whether their travel insurance would be legitimate.
Even in a highly vaccinated nation like Croatia, walking ashore in our veiled group seemed almost obscene—as if we were protecting ourselves from sick outsiders. Even though it wasn’t mandated by local law, the ship (and its paid local guides) pushed masks at every chance. I felt like Howard Hughes, wearing our masks outside in the Mediterranean sun, surrounded by young and healthy uncovered locals.
The legislation in Malta obliged cruise passengers, even those from Malta, to remain in a “bubble” and avoid mixing with the locals. Our guides were given precise instructions and even stickers to wear—four different colors—so that if we were inspected, we could claim to be four groups of six rather than one group of 24. We were all riding together on the same bus! The government took the regulations seriously, and the guides’ careers were on the line, as shown by their concern. It was both foolish and annoying for me. A decent tourist likes to contribute to the local economy, yet I couldn’t even purchase a cup of coffee.
On board, the psychological impact remained. Normally, there would be a lot of mingling and meeting new people on a cruise ship. Masking provides a much higher barrier than I expected. Almost all of my conversations with new individuals took place in the pool, where we were all uncovered.
No cruise company, obviously, wants to be on CNN for hosting an epidemic, like the Diamond Princess did in February and March 2020. But I wasn’t prepared for the stress. Online forums for cruise passengers featured nervously reported horror stories (and gossip) about what happens to those who test positive, including speculation about the possibility of being confined to one’s stateroom or being dumped ashore and forced into quarantine in a foreign country, as well as whether travel insurance would cover the hotel bill.
Some passengers stated they would avoid taking any bus trips for fear of being labeled as a “close contact” of a passenger who tested positive. Why go on a trip in the first place?
In earlier years, the only thing I was afraid about contracting from other cruise passengers was norovirus. And some of the Covid-induced actions are likely to have put a stop to it. I didn’t miss the self-serve buffet and don’t expect it to come back.
However, the testing and monitoring resulted in much more anxiety than comfort in the end. Travel should bring people together, not divide them.
Ms. Gulliver is an author and historian.
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The print version of the October 11, 2021, was published.