The tourism industry took a big hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict quarantine restrictions made it extremely difficult for people to go out—even if it’s only for mundane chores such as grocery shopping. Traveling for leisure became downright impossible.
Quarantine restrictions especially affected cruise vacations. News on coronavirus outbreaks onboard dominated the news. Such was the case for Diamond Princess, a cruise ship run-down with over 700 cases.
But the economy is recovering since the number of cases has been going on a downhill slope. You can go to the movies now. You can also take road trips and have a staycation at an airbnb.
Going on a cruise is your ultimate form of leisure. It’s ideal for you if you have a family with lots of children. Various cruises feature kid-friendly features such as water slides and bowling alleys. It’s also quite popular for religious groups. Going on a cruise has become a favorite form of Mormon vacation. Latter-day Saints often travel on cruises to visit various religious sites. They also use this opportunity to visit fellow churchgoers in other countries.
But you might ask: is it even possible to go on a cruise vacation in a chaotic world caused by a virus? It’s easy to answer yes. But that’s how it is a bit more complicated. To help you understand, this is how cruise ships will look like in a post-COVID world:
The Struggle of the Cruise Industry
To help flatten the curve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a “no-sail order” for cruise ships. This order was recently extended until February 2021. This affected the U.S. economy. Four hundred thousand U.S. jobs are supported by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), which supports almost 100% of global cruise capacity. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were put at stake.
Because cruise ships are contained spaces, it seems impossible to practice social distancing. And it would make it easier for the virus to spread because there would be nothing for you to escape to. There would be nothing but the vast ocean around you.
But experts believe that precisely because cruise ships are contained spaces, it makes it easier to prevent the virus onboard. Dr. Scott Gottlieb told Travel Weekly: “We’re trying to come up with a set of measures that can be adaptable in a high prevalence environment as well as the future lower prevalence environment where [the virus] will continue to be a threat but, hopefully, a much lower threat. Could taking a cruise potentially be a safer way to vacation in a COVID environment than going to London? I think it might.”
Big names in the cruise ship industry stepped up and prepared a primer on how they can create a safe space for all passengers and crew. This is the Healthy Sail Panel, a collaboration between the Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Health and Safety Precautions
As part of your booking and onboarding, you would be required to answer a comprehensive medical questionnaire. This questionnaire will assure them that you and your companions are COVID-free. Then there will be fever screening systems at the entrances.
Crew members will conduct daily sanitation of cabins and public areas. Face masks would be required in public areas. There may even be sterilization robots roaming around, ready to offer you hand sanitizers anytime.
And, most importantly, cruise ships will set up isolation wards for possible cases of the virus. More doctors and nurses will be on board to look after you and your fellow passengers.
It’s hard to imagine a cruise ship without a buffet. But rest assured that you will still have an enjoyable dining experience with crew-manned serving stations and table service. Then diner capacity will be controlled with reserved seating. You’ll have to book for a table first, but at least you can still practice social distancing.
Since cruise ships allow passengers to roam about, you wouldn’t always know how many people have held that door handle or pressed that light switch. So many cruise ships will employ touchless technology. Sensors will open doors. Thermal cameras will sense human presence and switch on lights. Between daily sanitation and these touchless technologies, you won’t have to worry about the virus lingering on your hands.
All these restrictions may seem like they are taking the fun out of the vacation, but cruise ships know how to balance safety and recreation. Yes, it might take a while before you can enjoy a cruise vacation. But the industry is working toward a COVID-free future through responsible precautions and best practices.