The cruise industry is making a strong comeback! The cruise ship environment is now considered to be an advantage for travel, because unlike anywhere else, cruise lines are able to control their own environments and eliminate the risk of a big outbreak. They are doing this with greater testing capabilities, and of course, vaccines. The C.D.C. guidelines require 98 percent of crew and 95 percent of passengers to be fully vaccinated before a cruise ship can set sail.
After suffering billions of dollars in losses, cruise companies restarted operations in Europe and Asia late last year. After months of preparations to meet stringent health and safety guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cruise lines have started to welcome back passengers for U.S. sailings. Currently, demand is outweighing supply, with many itineraries fully booked throughout the summer. Royal Caribbean recently announced that all sailings from Florida in July and August are fully booked.
At first, it was difficult to imagine how cruise ships, which carry millions of passengers around the world each year, would be able to sail safely again. People still remember the terrible stories of major outbreaks of Coronavirus onboard cruise ships, where passengers were confined to their cabins as the virus traveled rapidly throughout the ships, infecting thousands of people, and killing more than 100. Now, if everyone on board is vaccinated and tested regularly, it’s probably one of the safer options for international travel!
Cruising still has some risk. Several coronavirus cases have been identified on cruise ships since U.S. operations restarted in June, testing the cruise lines’ new Covid-19 protocols, which include isolating, contact tracing and testing passengers to prevent the virus from spreading. One ship was forced to do the right thing and cut short an Alaskan sailing after three people tested positive for the virus. Another threat is the highly contagious Delta variant, which is causing surges of the virus around the world.
All things considered, industry analysts are very optimistic about the cruise industry’s future and the potential for passenger numbers to recover to pre-pandemic levels, even as soon as next year. That optimism is boosted by what may be the industry’s best asset – unshakably loyal customers.