Much like the gymnasts competing in Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympics, the cruise industry is contorting, stretching, and jumping to find new ways to perform. Figuring out a return to cruising is complicated and includes examining each ship’s occupancy, COVID-19 protocols, ports of call, crew, and passenger vaccinations. Exponential variables make getting approval to sail a bit like winning the travel Olympics.
“It’s cruise line to cruise line approval based on the plan they propose to the CDC … followed by successfully implementing the CDC recommendations,” Valerie Gossett, owner of Premier Resources Vacation Group, said in a recent interview. Currently, she takes four calls a week with the major cruise lines to keep up with the ever-changing policies.
Containment and prevention is a hard job. For up-to-date information regarding the return to sailing consult the CDC website.
Please follow the rules
Cruisers need to be flexible, adaptable, and committed to following rules as set by the cruise line and ports of call. A poorly-planned restart to cruising may jeopardize American cruisers being welcomed into ports around the world.
“Please abide by the rules. … Don’t veer off on your own. Cause guess what? You won’t be getting on that ship again,” Gossett said.
“That will hurt this industry and we want to cruise in our future.”
Cruises will resume with fully vaccinated passengers and crew as unvaccinated passengers.
Vacationers who wish to sail on fully vaccinated cruise ships should confirm with their cruise line the sailing vaccination status.
Passengers who wish to sail unvaccinated should be aware of proposed additional costs incurred for repeat COVID testing while sailing to meet CDC’s, individual port, and country requirements. Additional masking may also be required. Some ports require cruisers to be fully vaccinated to disembark. Unvaccinated passengers will stay on board during those port days.
Ready for vacation
New Mexico-based Air Force spouse Emily Swinehart is ready for vacation and has two cruises booked for later this year. Already vaccinated, she is confident she and her husband can follow masking requirements and enjoy themselves.
Swinehart’s too-young-to-be-vaccinated children cause her hesitation.
“I do not want to go on a vacation where they have to be masked the entire time. That is not a vacation for them,” she said noting that she’s monitoring the cruise line’s policy for children.
As of now, children sailing, unvaccinated, will likely be asked to mirror guidelines for unvaccinated adult passengers in terms of costs, testing, and masking.
Bargain hunters beware
The combination of extended downtime from canceled cruise guests in a constant rebooking cycle may equal higher ticket prices. Travel agents are an excellent filter for finding the best deals. They can also book it for you if the deal is legitimate.
“Book it now!” Gossett said. “That’s when you are going to get your best price. You aren’t going to find the budget rooms. People are ready to go and there are hardly any rooms left!”