Before the pandemic, guests had unlimited exposure to each other: in theaters, in lines to disembark in a port, in elevators, and so on.
But now, the risk of infection looms on people’s minds.
Historically, cruise lines kept ships and guest areas exceptionally clean. It’s common to see crew members cleaning hand railings, elevator buttons, door handles, and floors.
Buffets allowed guests to pick up the food themselves.
Cruising After the Pandemic
When cruising returns to the US, expect more physical separation from other guests. Cruise lines will not permit large gatherings and line queues.
Most likely, more activities will require reservations. Some ports or cruise lines may require guests to stay with ship-led excursions, reducing contact with locals.
As for food, expect self-serve buffets to disappear for good. I’ve seen too many children (and adults!) grab dinner rolls with their hands only to put it back in the basket.
Instead, all food will be served directly to the guest. I can picture buffet areas staying open since they are very popular places to eat with a flexible schedule. However, they are likely to prohibit guests from coming in contact with food and serving tools. Buffets will become cafeteria-style, where you request a serving on separate plates.
Cruise lines that are exceptionally concerned about passenger health will not risk bringing Covid-19 on the ship.
Count on cruise lines requiring Covid-19 vaccinations as embarkation requisites. The upside is that having guests fully vaccinated helps bring cruise life back to normal much faster.
If cruise lines only require negative Covid-19 tests for embarking, there is still a chance of a false negative. As a result, the pandemic could regain a foothold on a single ship and infect unvaccinated individuals who, in turn, spread it further.
Florida Creates a Roadblock
With Florida’s governor getting the government involved in how private businesses run, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and other lines that require proof of vaccination are at odds.
On one hand, the state is understandably anxious to return to business as usual. On the other hand, low vaccination rates in the US simply mean the Coronavirus will not end anytime soon.
Some cruise guests do not want to cruise unless all other guests are vaccinated. Similarly, some cruise guests refuse to embark on a cruise ship requiring a vaccination.
It comes down to a cruise line’s commitment to health and safety and state government overreaching into how private businesses run.