Cruise Ships Will Have New Protocols
Cruising will most likely make its long-awaited comeback early in 2021, and many people are looking forward to setting sail. In fact, Royal Caribbean saw an overwhelming response for its trial sailings and research shows that travelers are anxious to get back out on the water.
While a majority of Americans 53 percent would wait to take a cruise until it was safe, 11 percent said they would probably sail again right away and 23 percent said they would sail as soon as possible.
When cruising restarts, it will look a little different but, based on how some cruise lines are currently operating, the experience will still provide a fun-filled vacation.
A Mandate From Congress
For the first time since 2010, Congress passed new regulations for the cruise industry. The Cruise Passenger Protection Act means a trained physician is required onboard and cruise lines must also install video cameras in all public places.
New Health and Hygiene Standards
Travelers should expect ships to look a little different. Cruise ships will have stringent health and safety standards. Personal protective equipment will be the new must-have amenity and cleaning will be frequent in public spaces.
One of the best ways to combat the spread of coronavirus is to make sure that the ventilation onboard is of the highest standard and cruise lines are taking measures to upgrade their air filtration to the highest standards.
Like on planes, the air will be much safer on ships now with new air filters. Norwegian recently announced that it will install disinfection air-purification systems across its 28-ship fleet for its three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
MSC is installing “Safe Air” that employs UV-C technology to purify air on its newest ship, MSC Seashore. Royal Caribbean is also installing air purification systems.
At this time, passengers will undergo testing at least twice during their sailing. Guests will be tested before boarding the ship and before disembarking the ship at their final destination. There may also be other times during the cruise when passengers may need to be tested.
Passengers will also fill out health screening questionnaires, ensuring that they meet all regional requirements and guidelines. These screenings may vary, depending on where a passenger is embarking.
Ships will also have enhanced medical centers that can handle a potential outbreak.
Face Masks a Must
CDC guidelines require cruise passengers to wear face masks onboard. Just like anywhere people go these days, face coverings will be required onboard ships in public spaces.
Cruise lines are modifying venues to accommodate social distancing requirements. Some, like AmaWaterways, have installed plexiglass barriers and removed tables and chairs in entertainment venues to keep people safely distant.
Travelers can look forward to onboard entertainment while onboard. If Royal Caribbean’s Singapore sailings serve as an example of the new normal, experiences such as the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator and the North Star glass observation capsule are open with new guidelines for distancing and new cleaning protocols.
New Approach to Dining
Guests will have lots of options for dining onboard ships but it will be modified to accommodate for safety and distance. Just like most restaurants around the country, tables will be more spread out and there will be more grab-and-go items.
The buffet hasn’t completely been wiped out. Onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, the buffet experience has shifted, with crew members serving guests.
In line with the CDC, at first, cruises will be limited to the length of their itineraries. The CDC has said that sailings can be no longer than seven days.
With many travel restrictions in place, it is likely that cruise lines will increase sailings to their private islands when cruising first resumes. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ CEO Frank Del Rio noted that these islands will be more utilized when cruising begins again and they are positioning ships to make the journey to Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye in Belize in seven-day roundtrip voyages. Royal Caribbean has made similar statements regarding its island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Travelers booking trips at the moment have found cancelation policies to be fairly lax. Many cruise lines are allowing guests who book 2021 sailings to cancel within a certain period of time and receive a full refund.
Cruise lines such as Seabourn are extending these policies into the new year. Travelers who book by Jan. 31 a cruise departing before December. 31, 2021, can cancel up to 30 days before departure and receive a 100 percent credit good toward sailings through December 31, 2022.
Copyright 2020 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.travelpulse.com.
By Janeen Christoff.