Smooth Sailing Ahead
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
by Alison Barnes
Ready to say ''Bon Voyage'' but not sure what's going on with the cruise lines since COVID-19 arrived in port? Since March 2020, and a No Sailing Order, cruise ships have been halted as the world adapts. But get ready, be cause the United States government and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have made strides to return cruise ships and their clientele to the sea where they belong.
In May 2021, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) was signed into law by President Biden. Due to Canada currently prohibiting passenger vessels traveling through Canadian waters, large cruise ships would not have been able to sail to Alaska this summer. ATRA creates a temporary, targeted waiver from the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 by deeming certain round-trip voyages between Alaska and Washington State as foreign voyages for the purposes of U.S. law. The cruise ships would not be required to stop in a foreign country.
The CDC announced that fully vaccinated travelers onboard cruise ships won't have to wear masks in outdoor settings. Passengers and crew members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may ''gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask except in crowded settings. In addition, cruise operators will allow fully vaccinated travelers to tour ports on their own and can ''engage in self-guided or independent exploration during port stops, if they wear a mask while indoors.''
So, what are cruise lines doing to ensure crew and passenger safety? Let's take a look at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL). RCCL is currently offering sailings out of the Bahamas for a 7-10 day Caribbean cruise, Alaskan cruises beginning July, and departure from other U.S. ports beginning November. As part of RCCL's Healthy Sail Program, all crew members are required to be fully vaccinated. Passengers ages 12+ are also required to be fully vaccinated no later than 14 days prior to sailing. Younger guests will receive a rapid result test before boarding.
The Healthy Sail Program also boasts enhanced onboard Medical Centers, cleaning protocols with medical grade disinfectants and contact tracing technology. The Medical Centers are equipped with rapid COVID-19 tests, isolation rooms and a response protocol including an immediate return to port with a positiveCOVID-19 test.
''What about River Cruising?'' you ask. As the European Union continues to relax travel and tourism restrictions, river cruising is opening back up. Let's examine Avalon Waterways, part of Globus Family of Brands. Much like RCCL, Avalon Waterways has en- hanced their cleaning protocols including air circulation. Air is not circulated between staterooms to help ensure healthy air. All crew members are fully vaccinated and passengers must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery. In addition, safety extends beyond the ship. The scheduled shore excursions include expedited entry into must-see attractions and passengers may even explore the port destination on their own while following that destination's guidelines. Avalon Water- ways also offer smaller ships with no more than 150 guests.
What if I don't want to travel outside the United States? Can I still cruise? The answer is YES! Dive into learning more about the United States with American Cruise Lines. American Cruise Lines offers river cruises on the Mighty Mississippi River, the Columbus and Snake Rivers as well as cruises in New England and now Alaska. Like RCCL and Avalon Waterways, American Cruise Lines has taken steps to ensure passenger safety. Each ship has a Certified Medical Officer with dedicated space for medical needs including an allotment of staterooms if isolation is needed. Cruises are operating at a reduced capacity and the minimum requirement to board is a negative COVID-19 test. The Certified Medical Officer also conducts a short health evaluation at the beginning of the cruise. The company has also researched each port destination for local requirements and coordinated with shoreline medical facilities for added support.
As we emerge from restrictions, lockdowns and closures, the travel landscape, so to speak, is very fluid. If there is one thing you can count on, it is change.The travel advisors at Endless Travel can help you stay up to date on country requirements and travel documentation throughout the booking and traveling process. Contact Endless Travel at 303.674.6616 to get started on your next adventure!