Watching the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that many of us remember is the horror stories coming from cruise ships, where people were quarantined in their cabins.
So, the important question is this: in 2021, are cruises safe?
Cruise ships have new safety protocols, mandatory pre-boarding screening, and extra medical professionals onboard to ensure passenger and crew safety while on vacation.
There are also extended cancellation policies, so you can cancel your cruise worry-free if you don’t feel comfortable.
You might feel put off from cruises after everything that happened last year, but as the world has changed, so has the cruise ship industry.
What Measures Are In Place?
Specific safety protocols and measures vary slightly per cruise ship, but overall the main points remain consistent throughout each cruise line:
- Each passenger and crew member must be fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before boarding (exceptions are made for children under 12)
- COVID testing and screening is administered by cruise personnel before boarding
- Enhanced sanitation and ventilation throughout the ship to prevent exposure
- Extra medical staff have been hired, with nurses trained specifically in COVID-19 treatment and related ailments
Cruise lines are also offering extended cancellation policies, so if something comes up, such as a positive COVID test, or you just aren’t feeling comfortable enough to go, you can cancel worry-free up to 24-48 hours, depending on the cruise.
Is It Approved by The CDC?
Currently, the CDC is not allowing departures from U.S. ports (Canada has also postponed them until early 2022). However, they are looking to allow test and simulator cruises, to view viability, before a cruise line could apply for a sailing certificate for restricted passenger voyages.
The main reasoning for this decision appears to be that the CDC has ordered that face masks are required on all forms of public transportation, but cruise lines wish to allow their passengers a physical-distance and mask-free experience.
While not currently approved at full or limited capacity with U.S. or Canadian ports, the Caribbean, Europe, and even some Asian cruises are running, though these are often with no ports of call-read more.
What Will Cruising Look Like Going Forward?
If you choose to go on a cruise this year, you may notice some changes from previous vacations. For the foreseeable future, buffets will be put on hold in favor of serving stations from the crew. This is to limit potential exposure in the dining hall and keep everyone safe.
There will also be mandatory vaccinations required for everyone old enough to get it and screenings before getting on the ship in every port of call. It is undetermined at this point if this will be the new normal for cruise lines, or temporary until we are through this.
Unfortunately at this time, it is hard to say what your cruising experience will look like this year. It could be exactly what you expect, or completely different from previous trips.
Image by Josiah Weiss.