I have a bit of a travel rant here, because many of my friends and colleagues are upset with another delay in cruising.
Let me just start by saying as a travel advisor, I want to see cruises start again…here in the United States, not in the Caribbean or Mexico, but from Florida, California, and everywhere else they sail from. I know a lot of my fellow advisors are hurting financially, because there’s a big question mark over the cruise industry and when sailings will start, and bookings translate to travel advisor profit. Also, many places dependent on the cruise industry are suffering too. I have expressed my concerns to my Representative in Congress and my two US Senators, as well as lobbied the Center for Disease Control itself, so I am definitely not against opening cruises up.
The anger is misplaced
But I’m a little concerned with the current piling on the CDC, who refused to lift the conditional sail order and reiterated that cruises will likely not start any sooner than November. The agency, which is tasked with health and public safety, makes declarations based on scientific evidence. They are obviously seeing COVID-19 numbers trending upward, so much that the director Rochelle Walensky last night went off script and warned of an “impending doom.” If she is saying something so ominous, I’m not going to complain that the CDC doesn’t know what it’s doing. I’m going to listen and take heed. Suing the agency, like what governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has threatened to do, won’t speed the process along.
A few days ago, we heard from medical experts and scientists that 400,000-plus could have been saved if we had acted sooner. That is very small comfort to those who have lost loved ones. But for far too long, we haven’t uniformly taken this pandemic seriously. Most states have, but others have not. If we had, with nationwide mask mandates, social distancing, regular hand washing or sanitizing and staying at home as much as possible, we probably would’ve been over this by now, like people in New Zealand and countries in East Asia. Instead, we're on the middle of the spectrum, with the chaos happening in Brazil at the other end.
Why we're still not out of the woods
Instead, we have a few but significant clusters of people who decry “my personal freedom is violated!” because they have to wear a mask. We have crowds who gather because they believe they won’t get COVID (honestly, most will not, but 3% likely will, and even with those small odds, it’s still too great a risk). We’ve had governors who cared more about political expediency and pandering to their base, rather than making the hard choices and putting safety protocols into place. And now, some won’t take the vaccine because it’s either unsafe because it was created too quickly, or undemocratic because they believe they’ll have a microchip implanted for government tracking. A COVID vaccine passport, rather than be seen as a positive and green light to travel, would have the same nefarious purpose.
Some states - like Texas, Mississippi and others - have lifted their mask mandates and have completely opened everything up. Predictably, cases of COVID are trending upward. Now, I can’t say for certain that those states are directly responsible for the increase, but I do know that when we think it’s OK to open up without restrictions, we will have a tendency to get careless, which is probably happening everywhere.
Let's do something different...so we can cruise again
I get it - we’re ALL tired of wearing masks and not being able to freely move about. And let me repeat: I WANT cruises to start ASAP. But I think part of the reason why the CDC hasn’t lifted the cruise order is because in general we aren’t taking care of each other and willing to protect each other. We’ve cared more about our personal rights than for the greater good. We all have pandemic quarantine fatigue, but we’ve come such a long way from just January, and we are getting close to the end. I’m imploring anyone who’s listening…let’s not screw this up beyond all recognition.
Maybe if the CDC starts to see that we can bring our COVID numbers down, and if the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises in June in the Caribbean prove they won’t be super-spreader events, they’ll lift this damn order.
In the meantime, I’lll keep booking land trips.