Cruises can resume phasing — but be prepared for short trips, not many COVID tests and no more buffet


Public health officials have given the cruise lines the green light to resume in a phased manner in the US following orders for no-sale amid the coronovirus epidemic.

But it may be months before passengers begin to reroute high seas from American ports.

Last week, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it was not expanding the full no-sale order that had shut down the cruise industry for months. The no-sale order, as a result, expired on 31 October, and was replaced by the CDC with a conditional sail order requiring cruise lines to complete to resume cruise lines.

However, on Tuesday, the Cruise Line International Association, the primary trade group representing the cruise industry, announced that its members had chosen to voluntarily suspend operations in the US for the rest of the year. This includes cruise lines owned by Carnival Corp, CCL,
-2.69%
Royal Caribbean Group RCL,
-1.02%
And Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings NCLH,
-2.35%.

The cruise industry has been particularly scrutinized during the coronovirus epidemic compared to other sectors of the travel industry. When cases of coronovirus skyrocketed earlier this year, cruise-ship outbreaks attracted widespread media attention. Notably, more than 700 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19 at Carnival Corp-owned Diamond Princess in March.

Meanwhile, cruise lines in Europe and Southeast Asia have gradually resumed operations, although there have been small COVID-19 outbreaks on some of those vessels, despite widespread precautions. In October, a ferry that sailed from Genoa, Italy, on a Costa Cruise trip, was shortened after a positive test of eight people.

Travelers planning a cruise vacation for the next year will need to know about the industry’s reopening:

It could be months before the cruises start sailing out of the US again

Cruise operators will again have to complete a lot to get OK from the CDC to begin sailing from US ports. For starters, they will have to develop their laboratory testing capabilities on their ships to test crew and passengers for coronoviruses.

They are then required to run simulated trips designed to test their ability to defuse the virus during a sailing. These fake trips may be open to the public, although it is unclear what they will do or how long they will last. The CDC would only allow participants who are adults without a pre-existing condition that put them at risk of complications were to contract COVID-19. Once all this is done, the cruise lines must submit the report to the CDC to be certified to re-sail.

And it’s just a process the CDC requires – it doesn’t take into account how much legwork it would take for cruise lines to get cruise lines back on their ships and take them back, said Stewart Chiron, a travel expert who runs the cruise is. Boy’s website.

Cruise line personnel live around the world, and some cruise lines began to move back to the US to resume their crews before the CDC issued its new order. “Essentially my understanding is that they are going to quarantine the crew for 14 days onboard and then stay on the ship for 14 days,” Chiron said. “It’s a month.”

At that time, cruise operators may work on other elements of their COVID-19-related plans, but passengers may be disappointed in January and February.

Chris Gray Faust, managing editor of travel website Cruise Critic, said, “The big question right now is how long it will take to implement the protocol needed to meet the requirements of the CDC.” “Many of those requirements were proposed by the industry, but it is unknown exactly how long it will take to actually execute.”

The presidential election may also play a role in the industry’s ability to reopen. Some reports have suggested that the Trump administration overthrew the CDC in extending a no-sale order on October 31 – and House Democrats are reportedly investigating the case. A Biden administration, if elected a former vice president, could slow the industry’s reopening, depending on its approach to the epidemic.

Carnival Corp said that each of its individual cruise lines would communicate plans to reopen on its websites. Carnival’s brands are Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruise, Holland American and Princess Cruise. Carnival CEO Arnold Doland said in a statement announcing plans to postpone operations until at least 2021, “Whenever we resume our cruise operations in the US, we definitely welcome our guests We do.”

(Royal Caribbean and Norway did not respond to requests for comment.)

Some sailors may be canceled even after the cruise line resumes

A restriction at the CDC is that cruises, once permitted, cannot last more than seven days. And the public-health agency reserved the right to extend (or extend) that deadline.

There may not be popular itineraries in that short time frame, such as cruises to the Bahamas or the Western Caribbean. But this may mean that some selling will not be done. For example, the Panama Canal trip would not be possible. Similarly, trips from California to Hawaii and Alaska will likely be off the table based on that timeframe, Chiron said.

Going on a cruise vacation will involve multiple COVID-19 tests

The CDC itself requires that passengers and crew be displayed on the day of travel and the day of return. It will also be necessary to test and obtain the results of the passengers before boarding the ship.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, where testing is concerned. If the cruises make ports of call, passengers will need to be tested by those countries before they take off from the ship. “Passengers have to undergo six tests on seven days of sailing with three ports,” Chiron said.

Also, if anyone is suspected of having COVID, any close contact will need to be screened. All told, Chiron suggested that some passengers might be too inconvenienced for extensive testing.

Many perks and amenities of a cruise vacation can be veiled.

Experts said the cruising experience could not be as carefree as it once was. “We can expect to see a lot more than what we see on the ground,” said Gray Faust. This would include capacity limits in other areas and the possibility of wearing masks. Self-service buffets will likely go to the side of the road – although you can stick all the food you eat around, but the staff with gloves serving the food instead.

However, the biggest change may be in the context of shipwreck activities. “Pre-cruise COVIDs are tilting the lines in testing as well as the ability to create their own ‘bubble’, as well as ship-sponsored shore excursions that require guests to take the protected offerings established by the cruise line, “Gray Faust said. , Explaining what the operators have done in Europe.

Therefore, rather than being able to plan their activities while visiting the port, passengers will need pre-designed excursions directly from the cruise line.

The Cruise Line International Association has said that when passengers can call, cruise lines will become so strict about it that when passengers can call, re-entry into the rule-breaking ship cannot be denied.

The second aspect here is whether Caribbean nations will allow cruise ships to return. At least one cruise line from Barbados has resumed sailors, but the region has not seen activity otherwise since the epidemic began. While the cruise industry is important to the economies of many of these countries, public health risks may cause some states not to allow visitors.

If you cancel, the cruise line may give you a voucher worth more than your original trip.

Gray Crust said each cruise line handles refunds, credits and bookings differently. “There is no industry policy to offer guests who choose to cancel on their own terms,” ​​he said.

Most cruise lines have relaxed their policies since the epidemic began to retain customers.

If the cruise line cancels your sailing, however, you are entitled to a refund. However, in most cases, the operator will automatically provide you with cruise credit in the future, and you will need to take a refund immediately.

But there can be benefits to waiting. Travel experts said that some cruise lines offered future cruise credits that were worth more than the previously paid passenger, which could be beneficial for those planning a trip in the more distant future Huh.

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