Cruise companies are implementing a series of changes and improvements to ensure the health and safety of their passengers and crews. Cruise experts note that 2021 cruise bookings industry-wide are up 4%, and river cruises are up 30%. Here are some of the changes that passengers might expect when cruises resume in 2021.
Expect More CDC Oversight – Although many cruise companies are not U.S. companies, the CDC is considered the gatekeeper, and many work with them on a voluntary basis. Cruise lines will not cruise until the CDC gives them the “thumbs-up.” The CDC will be looking very closely at all health protocols put in place to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
Strict Health Screening – Expect to go through multiple screenings especially those traveling to meet their ship via air travel. Health screening could include regular temperature checks when boarding and disembarking. There could even be COVID-19 testing for each passenger before boarding, especially if the technology improves and becomes more automatic. It is expected that crew members will also be tested regularly.
Improved Medical Facilities – New policies, new equipment, better air filtration systems, and increased facilities and professional healthcare workers dedicated to the health of the passengers will be available. All cruise ship members of Cruise Lines International Association, the largest industry trade association, are required to have medical facilities with highly trained medical professionals and physicians available 24/7.
New Public Space Layout – The cruise industry is in the midst of rethinking how all public spaces will be laid out to ensure social distancing.
Changes in Dining – The self-service buffet is most likely to become a thing of the past. Self serve stations for cold drinks and ice cream may also be limited and have a crew member serving you in order to avoid cross-contamination. Dining rooms will be reconfigured to allow more space between tables to ensure social distancing in an area where masks cannot be worn. There may be an increase in the type and amount of food you can get delivered to your cabin. Cruise lines may offer main dining room meals delivered to cabins for balcony dining.
Capacity Limits – In order to comply with stricter capacity limits, a system of reservations could be implemented and become commonplace for dining and entertainment venues onboard.
More Cleaning and Mask Wearing – There will be places on the vessel where mask-wearing has a place. Also, expect a higher level of cleaning onboard and the possible use of technology to help with this.
Fewer Sailings/Itinerary Changes – One thing that consumers can count on happening is that there will be fewer sailings and fewer ports of call. There is also speculation that there will be fewer people on board for a variety of reasons including less demand and the restriction of the number of people cruising in order to practice social distancing. When booking a cruise keep the terms and conditions in mind, this allows cruise lines to change the itinerary without passengers recourse.