And just like that, cruising is back. Today, three cruise companies announced restarts. Those new announcements are in addition to four cruise companies that announced restarts in the past two weeks.
Newly announced on Friday.
MSC has successfully sailed in Europe since August 2020, carrying more than 50,000 guests on board its ships to-date during the pandemic. In fact, a few cruise companies operated largely without incident during the pandemic – MSC and Costa in the Mediterranean, Royal Caribbean from Singapore, CroisiEurope and AmaWaterways on the rivers in Europe – and more.
It's all exciting and somewhat surreal. It felt as though the pandemic would last forever, but, of course, we knew it would end some day. Back in early February, we gave our best guess as to when cruising would begin its broader recovery and where.
What are our thoughts about those of you who have cruises booked in the summer and fall? We suspect you'll be cruising. Alaska may be out of the question, although that is still uncertain too. It's clear that we're turning the corner and that countries are changing policies, some locking down, others opening up, particularly to those travelers who have been vaccinated.
In Europe, river cruise lines are poised to begin sailing again this spring. Once Americans are allowed to travel to Europe, we expect river cruises to begin again in earnest.
We're guessing that at least one expedition company will announce a return to service. Stands to reasons that the small expedition ships that visit remote destinations would be a safe bet for a resumption of operations soon. We're betting that expeditions close to home for North Americans may be among the first. And we're hoping that Galapagos expeditions aren't far behind. We fully expect the Antarctica season to operate beginning in November.
We expect more announcements before April. This is merely a hunch, based largely on the success of vaccines and the logical assumption that cruise ships can operate safely, as they've proven time and again since the pandemic began.
Now all that’s left is for the CDC to see the light so that cruising can begin in earnest from U.S. ports. The CDC seems to be slow in recognizing that cruises are operating safely around the world. Companies that know they can operate safely are taking their ships outside U.S. territorial waters to begin service again outside the jurisdictional scope of the CDC. Maybe the CDC will see what’s happening on cruises from the Bahamas and the Caribbean and give ships the green light again to sail from U.S. ports.
Will you have to wear a mask on your cruise? Not for long. We suspect that masks will be required for the first several cruises, but even that is uncertain. Things are changing rapidly and the world conquers coronavirus. What will be required, at least initially, is the jab. Many of the cruise companies that are restarting require that guests are vaccinated. We don't know about you, but we wouldn't want to cruise without being vaccinated. After all, without the vaccines we would not have all of this encouraging news about cruising, would we?
Your Travel Specialist