“They are floating Petri dishes, and you could NOT pay me to get on a boat right now!” “They are dying! All of them are dying! It‘s a ghost ship!” If you are anything like me, you have heard these or variations on these themes. If there is one leisure activity that has taken a punch to the throat during these challenging times, it is the cruise industry. Are the death-criers right? Is a cruise ship a floating vessel of painful, lonely death? Gildshire is just as curious as anyone about these questions. So we put our crack research team on the case. Are there ways of keeping yourself safe on a 2021 cruise? Let‘s see what the pointy-headed geniuses found out.
Are all cruises canceled for 2021?
They are not, however, the major cruise lines are going dark at least through February and many through March and April. They hope to start slowly in the spring and get back to a normal-ish schedule this summer. Veteran and first-time cruisers alike should find deep discounts on summer 2021 trips and late summer cruises to Alaska. There are always deal on late-summer trips to the Caribbean, but those take place during hurricane season. The trip experts at the Gildshire Travel desk do not recommend those, even during the healthiest of global seasons…and this is not one of those.
Will cruises be safe in 2021?
We believe so, but the cruise industry is like any other industry. Things have changed, and new rules from the Centers for Disease Control are in place. Under these new rules, cruises can last no longer than seven days, so those around-the-world ventures will probably not sail in 2021. Furthermore, the CDC will require ships to perform rapid COVID-19 tests of passengers and crew. These tests will take place on the days of embarkation and disembarkation.
Future travelers can also expect temperature screenings on embarkation and socially distanced seating everywhere — from dining rooms to pool decks. Holland America has said it will convert buffet restaurants to serviced ones. Cruisers who enjoy a party boat atmosphere may discover a different kind of sea-faring vacation this year. Jeff Gurtman, managing director of the Coyle Hospitality Group, which has consulted with Carnival Cruise Line, says this about a changed atmosphere:
“[Some cruise ship] travelers expect ease of travel and a lively party atmosphere. Cruise lines will have to deal with how to ensure safe distancing while providing that feeling of fun.“
What About the Medical Paperwork?
It is still unclear whether cruise ships can require passengers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before boarding. Lawyers are looking at it now. But, we know it will be a requirement for the crew. It may be a moot point anyway, as some ports-of-call may have their own requirements where proof of vaccination is concerned. No shot, no admittance will probably be the rules of the road in many, if not all, England and European ports.
We hope, though, that you are not expecting to skinny past the rules where vaccinations are concerned. Get the shot, and get it as soon as it is available. This goes, especially if there is a cruise in your future. Your grandkids want to spend time with you. Keeping yourself safe on a 2021 cruise is the name of the game this year.
How do you stay safe on a cruise?
Think about the ways you stay safe on land. Now double it. Here are some safety procedures that are common across the board.
- Physical distance in terminals, aboard ships, and during shore excursions. Reduced occupancy, staggered embarkation, debarkation, and activity times.
- Buffet-style dining is converted to service restaurants.
- Mandatory masks by all guests and crew on-board if/when social distancing is not possible.
- Additional handwashing facilities and hand-sanitizing stations positioned in high-traffic areas throughout the ship.
- You might as well not make friends with a masking or social distancing scofflaw. The ship crew has been told to watch out for them. He or she will be removed from the ship if their behavior continues.
We all know someone who believes it isn‘t a vacation unless it‘s afloat. For those folks, the doors to normalcy may open a bit slower than for the rest of us. But, keeping yourself safe on a 2021 cruise is the name of the game. We hoped that we spoke that into reality for you and your family.