In a post-COVID world, cruises are likely to look a little different. As they move towards restarting in a ‘new normal’ world, the cruise industry has implemented a number of changes to make cruising a safe, enjoyable environment once again.
So how are things going to look for cruises this year and next? What are the best cruising tips for a post-COVID cruise? What will be the main trends in cruising over the next few years? Read on and get the lowdown on a post-pandemic cruise.
The GDC’s current rules cap cruises on seven days. But this is likely to remain a trend even after restrictions have been lifted. Shorter cruises are likely to become the norm or increase in popularity, as travelers try to get the cruise experience without the potential risk posed by more onshore trips.
For the foreseeable future, getting on the ship will have a number of requirements. Temperature checks are already commonplace, while some lines plan to implement rapid tests to ensure the health of all passengers. Some increased social distance is likely, with few ships planning to request masks when space makes this impossible. There is even talk of requiring crew and passengers to be fully vaccinated before sailing.
New health protocols emphasize the importance of ventilation, and cruise lines take this seriously. Better air control and ventilation strategies will be implemented wherever practicable, and more activities planned outdoors. Some lines even plan to install HEPA air filters on their fleet to ensure the cleanest air possible in enclosed areas on board.
Eating and entertainment
Unfortunately, COVID probably means the end of the buffet as we know it. Self-serve eating is no longer viable, so table service becomes the norm. Cruises are also likely to look to technology to help, with restaurants ordering meals using their mobile phones.
The pandemic also means that entertainment aboard the ship will change significantly. Theaters, cinemas, clubs and shows will all operate with reduced capacity, meaning more space on the dance floor and more empty seating in the auditorium. Larger gatherings are likely to become rarer, and will be replaced by more outdoor activities.
For the foreseeable future, multi-country travel programs will bring some complexity as each country implements its own range of health measures and safety protocols. As requirements everywhere change regularly and quickly, it is likely that travel programs will be kept as simple as possible, at least for the moment. Cruises that stick to a single country, or have fewer port stops, or even cruises that don’t stop anywhere at all, are all the more common.
The risk of large groups of people inevitably results in smaller ships becoming more popular. Currently, small cruise ships with a supply of less than 250 are exempt from CDC regulations, and smaller lines are likely to flourish. Expect alternative cruising to experience prosperity, with cruise lovers experimenting with river cruises, fjord cruises, and ships visiting smaller, less touristy ports.