What a Royal Caribbean or Carnival cruise looks like right now
The cruise industry is being battered by the media who have lazily advanced the “floating petri dish” narrative. Yes, there have been a few cases of widespread disease spread on a cruise ship, resulting in some striking visuals and feverish media coverage.
In fact, the major cruise lines — Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get the Royal Caribbean group reportCarnival Cruise Lines (CCA) – Get Carnival Corporation reportand Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get the report from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. — invested heavily in passenger health long before the pandemic. Ships have always been in a near constant state of cleaning, while handwashing was heavily emphasized long before covid.
When you enter a cruise buffet, you encounter rows of handwashing stations with a crew member telling you (often in song) to wash your hands. Once the pandemic hit, the three major cruise lines stepped up their cleaning and sanitizing efforts, working with medical panels to determine how to make cruising as safe as possible.
And, while cruise lines have been aggressive in their own safety efforts, they’ve also had to deal with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This agency kept the industry completely closed to U.S. ports from March 2020 through July 2021. When the federal agency allowed cruises to return, they were heavily regulated, operating with limited capacity, and requiring all crew as well as all passengers 12 years of age or older to not only be vaccinated, but provide a negative covid test result taken no later than two days prior to departure.
Despite all these precautions, questions remain as to whether it is safe to take a cruise.
What does a cruise look like right now?
Covid has not gone away. It continues to spread and you can get it at the supermarket, at a concert, at a sporting event, at a theme park, on a cruise, or anywhere you come in contact with. other people. The difference is if you catch covid somewhere you go for a while and then leave, you don’t really know where you caught it.
I’ve done eight cruises since the July restart. The protocols have changed since the first, but here’s where they stand now:
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- All crew must be vaccinated.
- All passengers aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated.
- All passengers must present a negative covid test result taken no later than two days before departure.
Masks are no longer mandatory for passengers, but crew members still wear them. Capacity has steadily increased since my first cruise in July, with passenger numbers nearing full capacity on my last weekend cruise (May 13-16) on Freedom of the Seas.
With nearly everyone on board vaccinated and tested, I honestly felt safer at sea than when visiting my local supermarket (where few people wear masks and many are likely unvaccinated). The same could also be said for my covid-era visits to Disney World, my trips to Las Vegas, and a few sold-out (albeit outdoor) live sporting events.
This does not mean that there is no risk. I have never caught covid, but I have friends who have caught it on board (all with mild symptoms).
Is it safe to take a cruise at this time?
My personal opinion is that it is safer to be in a closed environment with vaccinated people than to live with many unvaccinated people every day. This view was supported by the actions of the CDC. The federal agency has now eliminated its pandemic-related travel health advisories for cruise lines and has also eliminated all risk warnings.
The agency still offers the following advice:
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between close people on board ships. If the virus spreads on board a cruise ship, passengers and crew are at risk of infection, even if ‘they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.’
All three major cruise lines have procedures to quarantine passengers who show signs of covid or test positive. These actions limited outbreaks on ships. no Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Norwegian crew members hospitalized due to covid.
As long as the covid exists, being around people carries risks. However, cruise lines have taken significant steps to control these risks and limit their spread. This makes cruising a viable and safe option for people in good health.