Shortly after the pandemic began, cruise lines around the world began touting that COVID testing, along with safety protocols such as mandating a pre-boarding quarantine period would be the key to allowing cruise ships to resume sailing the seas. However, testing isn’t always accurate, people lie about getting tested, people don’t wear masks, and they don’t adhere to the pre-boarding quarantine.
Now that vaccines have started being distributed throughout the US and UK, cruise ship companies are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In a blog post on the Royal Caribbean website, the company’s CEO, Richard Fain, is betting on vaccines and the concepts of “immunity passports” to be what finally allows passengers to resume cruising in a safe and protected way.
In the post, Fain stated, “Previously, we expected cruising to resume based on creating a virtual bubble of safety on a ship, even if the rest of the country was experiencing significant spread…Today we envision that the key, but not the exclusive factor, will be the vaccines rather than purely the protocols.”
And this is good news for cruisers. According to USA Today, cruise bookings are strong for the second half of 2021 (by then, the vaccine should be easily available to everyone) and they cited a poll from the Cruise Lines International Association, which stated that 50% of cruisers surveyed said they were likely to cruise again with the year. With such high demand, it will mean it’s critical for cruise lines to do everything in their power to keep passengers safe.
Cruise ships are especially dangerous for COVID spread because almost every inch of space on the boat is communal and crowded. Because of this, requiring all passengers to be vaccinated not only creates a safer space, but it will also help passengers sail with peace of mind, allowing them to enjoy their vacations more.