(Starting next week, I'll write twice a week in this blog. The usual Monday post will be about the usual travel destination or list. On Thursday, you'll get a quick travel tip. Here's a preview what that will look like).
After having gone on three cruises in the past four months - with three more coming in the next eight months - I have to say that the (negative) hype has been greatly exaggerated.
With plenty of news stories about travelers being denied boarding, COVID outbreaks with fully vaccinated guests and crew and ships prematurely returning to port, none of them seem to report on what’s working with cruising.
Let me tell you what I’ve observed on the trips I just went on Celebrity Apex, Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas and MSC Seashore.
· Ships at one-quarter to one-third capacity
· Highly attentive service
· Decent meals
And most important:
· Strict COVID protocols in place
If you have any desire to cruise or try it if you’ve never been on one, now is the time to go. That’s because the ships aren’t crowded, you’ll have friendly crew waiting on you and mostly tasty food to enjoy.
But the thing that you’ll most appreciate is the priority of health and safety. From the time you go through the cruise terminals to when you disembark at the end, you have mostly fully vaccinated and boosted guests and crew, mask wearing in indoor public spaces, hand washing and sanitizing and distancing when appropriate. And while you’ll hear of outbreaks, most cruises don’t have ones that result in itineraries ending early or mass quarantines.
As of today (March 7, 2022), many of the cruise lines are re-thinking these policies due to declining COVID numbers. The vast majority are following the CDC's color-coded Program for Cruise Ships, which essentially entails numbers of virus outbreaks and mitigation and whether a ship participates in the program itself. With cruise lines modifying some of those above mandates, it should make the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone.
So, what are you waiting for? The best time to cruise is now, before things get back to “normal.”