While waiting to step onboard a cruise ship in a U.S. port once
again, you may be wondering how cruise policies and procedures are changing to
meet new, pandemic-era health and safety needs. It’s safe to say that there
will be lots of changes, some more visible than others. Here’s what we know
right now about what you can expect.
More health screenings. The highly transmissible
COVID-19 virus makes it important that everyone who comes on board is healthy.
Passengers could be asked to provide documentation that they are virus-free and
fit to travel. Expect touchless temperature checks when you board and when
entering public spaces on the ship. Hand sanitizer stations have become an
onboard fixture in recent years, but expect to see even more of them, along
with reminders to use them frequently.
Masks. The Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention says masks can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent people
who have the virus from transmitting it to others. So, as on land, it’s likely
that cruise passengers will be asked to wear masks at least some of the time.
This may include when you’re in enclosed public spaces on the ship, or in areas
where it’s not possible to keep at least 6 feet of physical distance between
passengers. Some cruise lines have announced their intention to provide masks
to passengers, but before you cruise again, check with your professional travel
advisor on whether you should bring your own.
Fewer passengers. To help make it easier to keep
physical distance between passengers, ships are likely to reduce passenger
capacity. You can also expect smaller group sizes for onboard and onshore
activities, and reduced capacity in onboard entertainment, sports and dining
Less self-service. To help keep things sanitary, you
probably won’t be able to serve yourself from the buffet, coffee bar or ice-cream
machine. Instead, a crew member will bring your selections to you.
Behind-the-scenes safety measures. Some cruise lines
have announced upgraded air filtration systems, expanded medical facilities and
staff, hourly sanitizing of high-touch items like doorknobs and deck rails, and
the use of advanced electrostatic disinfection equipment.
If these expected changes to cruising seem difficult, please
remember that these are unusual times; cruise lines, crews, and passengers will
get through this together. In addition, pandemic-related restrictions and
requirements won’t change the best reasons to cruise: to relax, enjoy wonderful
service, and see something out of the ordinary.
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