Additional Health And Safety Measures
Along with the above-mentioned protocols, all the cruise lines are implementing even more procedures to keep us safe on a cruise.
While we have always felt cruise ships were safe, the lines have increased routine cleaning and sanitation efforts. Many have also improved ventilation systems and offer additional hand sanitizing stations and cleaning wipes throughout the vessel.
These small changes do not impact the cruise experience in any way.
Someone Might Test Positive It Shouldnt Ruin The Cruise
Routine testing has turned up positive covid cases on a few sailings so far which cruise operators have expected. Their goal is to make sure a couple of cases dont become an outbreak that would force a cruise to end early. So far, the efforts have been successful.
Mellen was on Adventure of the Seas in June when two unvaccinated children tested positive one asymptomatic and one with mild symptoms and had to be flown home. The captain announced the cases and thats all we heard about it, she said. Everyone 16 and older was required to be vaccinated on that sailing.
Nobody was like, Oh no, she said. We know the protocols work, we saw it in action, and we just went on with the rest of our cruise.
Mellen said she is glad she is able to explain to customers how the situation was handled after experiencing it herself.
McDaniel was also on a cruise when two vaccinated passengers tested positive during an end-of-cruise test. Those who had come into close contact with those passengers had to be isolated while they awaited extra testing, but no one else ended up infected on the sailing, which also required anyone 16 and older to be vaccinated.
It didnt really disrupt that vacation, she said. No one was locked down for an exceptionally long period of time.
If You Have To Cruise Heres How To Stay Safe
It may be some time before it is really safe to board a cruise. The countrys leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently said that he thinks the country will be under control of Covid and normalcy will be regained by the spring of 2022. But even then, travel and cruises will be high-risk activities.
We look forward to a future when more people are vaccinated and the numbers are smaller, perhaps more than we are in the delta version, Ostrosky says. It will be a much safer time to travel.
If your heart is ready to go on a cruise before then, you should get vaccinated if youre eligible, Malani says. Then, look for cruises that require vaccination proof and only allow low capacitythe less, the better. While on a cruise, do activities and excursions that are low-risk, she says, like always eating out. And of course, board the ship with the understanding that no matter what happens, you are taking a risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives cruise ships a colour-coded safety status green, yellow, orange and red based on reports of cases of covid or covid-like illness. The agency also indicates when outbreak investigations take place on ships. You can check the CDC website for the ships COVID status before planning or boarding a cruise.
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Try Something New This Year
Travel in 2021 has by no means returned to normal. But cruises are providing a segue to that normalcy youre longing for.
Traveling to exotic locations, going to the theatre or casino indoors without a mask , dressing up and going out to dinner, enjoying a vacation with your family not many vacations can give all of that at once. So why not consider taking a cruise for your next vacation?
If youre still not on board with the idea of a cruise in 2021, its a great year to add new off-the-grid places to your summer travel list. Enjoy a locals-only experience without big crowds and visit destinations you havent thought of before.
What Can Cruise Travelers Do To Protect Themselves And Others
CDC recommends that travelers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to traveling on a cruise ship.
People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or 2 weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series.±
Travelers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status.
If you are at increased risk for severe illness and considering cruise travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, discuss this type of travel with your healthcare professional. Older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are;more likely to get severely ill;if they get COVID-19. People with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress their immune systems, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.
Do not board a cruise ship if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you know you have COVID-19, if you were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the past 14 days , or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 viral test.
If you go on a cruise during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Before you board:
- Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or 2 weeks after the second;dose in a two-dose series.
While you’re on board:
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Cruise Cancellations And Suspensions On
Early in the COVID-19 outbreak, many cruise lines implemented preventative measures meant to keep passengers safe and cases at a minimum.
“Policies currently in place include asking all embarking guests to submit a pre-embarkation public health questionnaire certifying their current health status and recent travel history and administering a non-touch fever temperature check for all guests on board,” Joe Chabus, the director of public relations for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, tells TripSavvy.
Policies also included denying boarding to guests or crew who traveled to or from China, Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Iran, and Italy within the past 14 days. Guests and crew members with temperatures at or above 100.4 degrees F, and those who had contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
Beginning in March 2020, cruise lines because cancelling and suspending future sailings. Princess Cruises was one of the first companies to take this step and on May 6, they announced that most of their sailings are canceled for the rest of 2020.
“By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” said Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises, in a statement.
Take The Muster Drill Seriously
The muster drill where the crew demonstrates safety procedures, talks about what happens in case of an emergency at sea, and outlines protocols takes place at the beginning of every cruise.
No matter how many times youve been on a cruise youre going to have to participate in a muster drill, McDaniel says. Veteran cruisers especially say, Ugh! Ive been through this tons of times!, but take it seriously. Pay attention. Know what your emergency escape routes are.
As McDaniel points out, you need to know whats expected of passengers in case of an emergency, because you want to have that information at your fingertips in case something does happen.
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Will It Be The Same Experience Onboard The Cruise
There will be some changes in the typical cruise experience. This changes will likely include fewer direct interactions between the crew and guests, fewer people eating in the same room at the same time, increased ventilation in the indoor spaces, a greater emphasis on onboard cleaning, and daily temperature checks.; Smaller ships for a cruise may also be a trend in the future.
How To Stay Safe On A Future Cruise
Coronavirus aside, some travelers already shun the idea of cruising due to illness-related concerns, with many likening cruise ships to being on floating Petri dishes. While norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships have made plenty of headlines in recent years, though they aren’t as common as they seem.
Practicing basic hygiene onboard goes a long way for stopping the spread of viruses and staying healthy on a cruiseâand many ships already place ample hand sanitizing stations throughout for this exact reason. If you’re already on board a vessel or are still planning on proceeding with your cruise, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people, regular handwashing, and, if you develop a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, staying in your cabin and notifying medical personnel onboard immediately.
Once your return from your cruise, the agency recommends monitoring your health and practicing social distancing should you feel unwell.
Independent. “Grand Princess: Supply shortages and ârottenâ food plague passengers on coronavirus-stricken ship as it prepares to dock.” March 9, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDCâs role in helping cruise ship travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.” November 23, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How to Protect Yourself & Others.” July 26, 2021.
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Which Cruise Lines Require Vaccinations
For the most part, cruises will only be available to those who have been vaccinated.
In January, British operator Saga Cruises faced consternation when it became the first cruise line to introduce mandatory vaccination. But now, companies are recognizing it as the norm, said Tom McAlpin, CEO and president of Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson’s adults-only cruise line.
“We know this is the future,” McAlpin said. “As an adult-only cruise line, we’re able to offer a highly-controlled, safe environment for everyone on board.”
Crystal Cruises, Norwegian, P&O, Viking, and Celebrity Cruises, have all followed suit, introducing vaccine requirements for adult passengers. Royal Caribbean has made vaccines compulsory for some routes, including the Caribbean, while Carnival Cruises has yet to announce any such measures.
When Should You Book A Cruise
Now. There is high demand for a limited number of spots on cruise ships that will operate at 50 percent capacity. So dont expect to get a great deal.
Because of the current high demand for cruises, as well as expected limited sailings, were actually not seeing very many deals available. Cruise lines have been able to keep their pricing relatively stable, says Gray Faust.
The limited capacity and need for reservations is another reason to book now, says Gray Faust, to ensure you can get reservations for the experiences you want onboard.
Plus, she said, some cruise lines are implementing mandatory cruise line shore excursions, in order to keep the travel bubble in place on land. So thats also worth keeping in mind you might have less of a choice of excursions than youre used to, she says.
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Shorter Cruises Shipboard Testing And Social Distancing
Under the new rules, cruises are capped at seven days. The CDC will require ships to provide rapid COVID-19 tests of passengers and crew 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.
travelers like that theres a certain ease of travel and a lively party atmosphere, says Jeff Gurtman, managing director of the Coyle Hospitality Group, which has consulted with many cruise lines, including Carnival and Princess. Cruise lines will have to deal with how to ensure safe distancing while providing that feeling of fun.
CDC Recommendations for Travelers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend avoiding travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high. It adds that avoiding cruises is especially important for people with an increased risk of severe illness risk that increases with age.
If you do cruise, says the agency, get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel even if you test negative. If you dont get tested, it recommends staying home for 14 days after your return.
Consider Small Deposits For Cruising 2021
As always when booking a cruise, travelers have the flexibility to just pay an initial deposit at the time of booking. Final payment generally isnt due until around three months prior to your sail date.
Alex Ziselman, a travel advisor with A2Z Travel LLC, recommends booking early and considering a refundable deposit.
When you book early you can always reprice if the pricing goes down. But if it goes up, your lower rate is locked in. This would only apply to a refundable deposit rate, says Ziselman, a member of ;American Society of Travel Advisors .
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Cruise Ships Take Safety Seriously
Cruise ships carry lots of safety gear. An average cruise ship with 2,700 passengers and 800 crew carries:
- Five firefighting teams
- 16 miles of sprinkler piping
- 5,000 sprinkler heads and 6 miles of fire hose
- Enough survival craft, including lifeboats and life rafts, to accommodate at least 125% of the number of persons on board
In addition, according to Kennedy, Cruise crews complete rigorous training in every aspect of passenger safety, including securing heavy objects onboard, life jacket and lifeboat storage, bridge procedures and access, CPR, and more.
The crews are able to jump in and react because its almost muscle memory for them, McDaniel says. Theyve been trained and retrained, so when an emergency happens, they are very prepared.
In addition to gear and training meant to deal with the hazards of traveling over water, cruise ships are also vigilant about tracking down perpetrators of luggage theft, pickpocketing and other crimes on board.
Measured on a per-passenger basis, incidence of these crimes is at microscopic levels.
Financial Risk To Booking And Taking A Cruise
When we talk about the financial risk of booking a cruise, were not talking about accidentally spending too much on your vacation.
Instead, we are talking about the possibility that your trip could be cancelled and you could be out what you paid in cruise fare. Or even worse, what about the financial well-being of the cruise line. Will cruise lines go out of business?
The good news is that these risks seem relatively low right now.
Cruise CancellationsNo one wants to book a cruise, only to have it cancelled. But in the case of this crisis, many people are actually coming out ahead. Thats because many cruise lines have been generous with their compensation as they have had to cancel more trips.
Not every line is the same, but many have offered back either a 100% refund of what you paid, or the option of a 125% cruise credit. So if you paid $2,000 for your cruise, you can receive your money back, or a $2,500 credit for a future trip. Carnival has offered a 100% refund or a 100% credit for a future cruise, plus hundreds in onboard credit for that trip.
Either way, you should be compensated accordingly.
There have been some complaints on social media about these refunds taking some time. We actually have firsthand experience with a booked cruise that was cancelled on March 24, 2020. The taxes and port fees were supposed to take 30 days to be refunded, but ended up not being returned until May 20, 2020.
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Stick To Pandemic Habits
As of now, CDC guidelines require masks at port and when boarding, but each cruise line will have different protocols on board. “As a general rule, it’s always safest to wear a mask when you are unable to properly socially distance yourself from those who are not in your immediate party,” Quigley says. “When engaging in activities with other passengers, be sure to also wear a mask, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands immediately after touching any surface.” He also suggests bringing masks you can wash and dry in the cabin sinks, or stocking up on disposable face coverings.
Cabins undergo strict cleaning measures before allowing passengers to board, but caution can still be key. “While the risk of contracting COVID-19 from surfaces is low, it’s always a good practice to sanitize high-touch surfaces and regularly wash your hands,” he says, also recommending wiping down door handles and countertops.
Another simple tip to avoid areas with stagnant air: “Take the stairs versus the elevators,” Palmer says.
Things To Consider Before Booking A Cruise For 2021
Whether youre booking a trip directly with a cruise line or a travel agent, ask questions and do your research. Travis Blanchard, founder of Splash Bytes recommends the following:
- Research all travel restrictions.;Each place and city has its own travel and documentation requirements.
- Know the medical protocols.;Some cities wont just accept simple travel authority passes from the place of origin.; They also require tourists to undergo COVID-19 tests such as swab tests or rapid tests.
- Bring extra budget.There are tons of hidden charges that this pandemic have caused us, says Blanchard. Some of those fees are for sanitation, infection control and many more. Its wise to bring extra money on your next trip for unexpected expenses.
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