Friday, August 19, 2022
Aug. 19, 2022

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From the Newsroom: We have the ‘merch’

By , Columbian Editor

If you’re a longtime reader, you may remember when my predecessor, Lou Brancaccio, hawked his “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” coffee mugs. Or perhaps you have one of the colorful Columbian comics umbrellas, which have been used as incentives for subscribers.

This week, we expanded our merchandise offerings, opening an online Columbian store at There you can find shirts, tote bags, and not one, but two colorful umbrellas. We hope to offer hats and some other items as soon as the supply chain is more reliable.

“This is an idea that we’ve discussed over the years, not so much as a revenue driver, but as a way for our readers and ‘super fans’ to support the work we do for the community,” said Publisher Ben Campbell.

Like Ben said, we don’t expect this to be the salvation of local journalism. But it’s a fun way to show our uniqueness and pride in our area. If your favorite local restaurant can offer merch, why not your favorite local newspaper?

Cruising along

Last week, I mentioned offhandedly that I had missed a week of work because I was on a cruise vacation. I got several emails from readers asking about my experience. So I thought I would let you know some of the things on the cruise I noticed that were different, and things that didn’t seem to change.

We cruised on Majestic Princess, sailing seven nights round trip from Los Angeles to the Mexican cities of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It’s a classic itinerary made famous by the old “Love Boat” TV show, and I’ve sailed it several times over the last 30 years on various Princess ships. It’s still a very low-stress vacation for people from the West Coast, and the ports remain diverse and interesting.

The first difference I noticed was that the cruise line requires all passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to take a COVID travel test within two days of boarding the ship. That wasn’t hard; I uploaded a photo of my vaccination card to the cruise line’s web portal and was able to get a test at no cost to me at the Legacy GoHealth clinic in Salmon Creek.

Because Princess has invested heavily in wearable technology (you receive a medallion that you carry, and can download a companion app to your smartphone), there were no lines for check-in. I cleared security, showed my passport, medallion and vaccination card, walked onto the ship, and in less than 10 minutes was drinking champagne and eating a formal three-course luncheon in the dining room.

In fact, there were no lines all week. Princess has modified or abolished activities that require or encourage people to gather together indoors in tight spaces. This includes everything from the safety briefing to the champagne waterfall display.

There were no children on our cruise, because at that time they were too young to be vaccinated (the rules just changed). I saw several teenagers.

There was never a wait for an elevator, because the ship was at less than 50 percent capacity.

The buffet was open, but there was no self-service. Servers would fill your plate. A few pre-plated items were available to grab-and-go. I lost track of how many fruit smoothies I grabbed!

Staff wore masks at all times. Guests were required to wear masks in elevators and in show lounges, and they were asked to wear them while moving about indoors. We took them off while seated in bars or the dining room, or while lounging by the pool. Compliance was excellent, and I didn’t hear a complaint all week. People were just glad to be on vacation.

Looking back, it was one of the better seven-night cruises I have taken. My next cruise, 15 nights, is toward the end of March. It will be interesting to see if that experience differs from October.


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