How the Vaccine Will Impact Cruise Vacations

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Rising stock prices, booking records, and overall jubilation in the cruise industry executive offices. Cruising is back on the program!

These were the results of an announcement this week by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer/ BioNTech that a vaccine is nearly 90% effective and could be released by authorities this year.

Great news indeed, but what are the implications for cruise vacations? Will we only be able to cruise with a vaccination? When will the vaccine be available to the masses? And can we expect an end to COVID-19 and the return of cruising as we know and love?

Will I be Able To Cruise Without Being Vaccinated?

Once the vaccine starts being distributed worldwide, the first to be vaccinated will be the weak, the old, the sick. The frontliners, doctors, nurses, care specialists will be next. Anything to do with travel and ‘fun’ things will be a long way down the list.

It is unlikely that the cruise lines or CDC demand that people onboard will need to be vaccinated next year. What is likely is that this is a process that will be implemented over time. The same as a yellow fever certificate is mandatory in some countries; a COVID-19 certificate will likely be mandatory.

Once a certain percentage of the worldwide population is vaccinated, it could very well be a requirement from the CDC, cruise lines, and even governments that cruise ship travel is only for those vaccinated. By that time, it could be as simple as getting a yellow fever or flu shot.

When will the vaccine be available to the masses?

Pfizer is expecting the vaccine to be ready before the end of the year. That means that the company has a vaccine they know to work, proven to be safe, and can start to be produced. Pfizer CEO Albert Bouda had this to say:

“There are three key areas where, as with all vaccines, we must demonstrate success in order to seek approval for public use. First, the vaccine must be proven effective, meaning it can help prevent COVID-19 disease in at least a majority of vaccinated patients.”

“Second and equally important, the vaccine must be proven safe, with robust safety data generated from thousands of patients. And finally, we must demonstrate that the vaccine can be consistently manufactured at the highest quality standards.”

Step two is producing the vaccine. There will be several sites where the vaccine will be produced; there are manufacturing plants in the U.S., Belgium, Germany, and others. Pfizer/ BioNTech expects to be able to produce no more than 1.3 billion doses in 2021. No more than one in five worldwide will be vaccinated in 2021 if only Pfizer produces a vaccine.

If you are not in a risk group or a frontliner, don’t expect to be vaccinated in 2021.

Can we expect an end to COVID-19 and the return of cruising as we know?

While there are many doomsayers, the expectations are that if the vaccine is indeed as effective as Pfizer claims (90%, however, the tests have been done on thousands of people, not millions or billions, expect deviations), then yes, we could expect a return to cruising as we know it. That return will not be 2021, or maybe even 2022. In the near future, expect cruising to have limitations.

Photo Credit: Philip Armitage /

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