After more than 18 months of shutdowns, lockdowns, and travel restrictions, it is with great relief that cruise ships are finally setting sail again. Many cruise passengers are eager to enjoy their favorite cruise lines and ships once more, but what can you do to help cruises resume after the COVID-19 pandemic?
How Cruises Are Resuming
Different cruise lines have different strategies and timelines for resuming operations. Factors such as the parent company, the number and sizes of ships in the line, embarkation port requirements, and destination itineraries all play a part in when a cruise line starts sailing again.
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Once a ship sets sail, additional requirements such as reduced capacity, enhanced cleaning procedures, pre-cruise COVID testing, vaccination rates, mask policies, social distancing, contact tracing, bubble tours, and other policies are all part of new health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of an outbreak.
As initial sailings are successful, cruise lines are expanding operations and bringing more ships into service. This will help meet the pent-up demand from cruise passengers who are eager to enjoy cruise vacations once again, but it is up to those passengers to help cruise lines set sail in healthy and productive ways.
How to Help Cruises Set Sail
The best way to help cruises resume post-pandemic is to simply book a cruise. Showing interest in returning to cruising, especially with sooner departure dates, will help encourage cruise lines to activate more ships and plan more itineraries.
Passengers can book completely new cruises or use credits from past cancelled cruises to help restart the cruise industry.
Before setting sail, passengers should consider being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Not only will this open up more opportunities for cruise vacations as cruise lines have fewer restrictions on fully vaccinated passengers, but it will also raise overall local and regional vaccination rates to minimize further transmission of this very contagious and potentially deadly disease.
As vaccination rates rise, all types of travel restrictions and other mitigation measures can be lifted, helping return activities to pre-pandemic levels.
Booking extras on board cruise ships is another way to help the industry recover and encourage cruise lines to expand their operations. Drink and dining packages, shore excursions, spa treatments, photo packages, and other extras further demonstrate interest in cruising and help support the industry and the crew members who are eager to return to work.
Encouraging others to set sail can also positively impact the cruise industry’s return to service. Family members, coworkers, and friends who see eager passengers confidently return to cruising may decide to book a getaway themselves, adding more business to each ship.
Once a cruise is booked, it is vital that passengers follow the proper protocols both before and during their cruise. Taking steps to stay healthy before the cruise, such as eating a proper diet, taking appropriate vitamins, and getting plenty of sleep can ensure passengers are ready for the best possible cruise.
Prospective passengers should stay updated on the essential protocols for the cruise they’ve booked. As the pandemic continues to evolve, particularly as vaccination rates improve or new variants of the disease may be identified, cruise lines can and will change their protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible.
If the protocols are changed even after a cruise is booked, passengers are obligated to obey the new guidelines. If passengers are unwilling to do so, they should contact the cruise line to discuss the possibility of rebooking the cruise to another sailing or requesting a refund or credit for the cruise fare.
While on the ship, all passengers must abide by the safety protocols each ship has in place. This includes using hand sanitizer and washing one’s hands frequently, minimizing surface touching, maintaining social distancing, and abiding by other health and safety directives. This cooperation shows that passengers are happy to be back onboard and willing to work with the cruise line to keep everyone safe without disturbances.
Most Important of All
The most important thing passengers can do to help cruises resume after COVID is to be flexible with their travel plans. As cruise lines work to balance the requirements of different embarkation ports and destinations, protocols will continue to evolve and itineraries and ship deployments may be changed.
Purchasing travel insurance can provide peace of mind that a cruise vacation investment is protected, but be sure to read all the terms and conditions of the insurance policy carefully to learn what may and may not be covered.
Passengers who can adjust their travel plans and may not mind changes in overall health and safety protocols prior to setting sail can be flexible no matter what happens with the cruise industry in the weeks to come.
The better flexibility travelers can have, the better they will be able to support shifts in the cruise industry to help cruises resume safely and efficiently as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to slow. While it is likely this disease will impact travel and daily life for years to come, conscientious passengers can take positive steps to help cruises resume and enjoy setting sail safely once again.