That place where the sky meets the sea… does it call you like it did Moana? Are you yearning to get out on the open water, relax poolside, and head on an all-inclusive holiday? We’ve got an update on the future of cruising post COVID-19.
Whilst the not-so-good news is that cruising remains off the cards right now thanks to COVID-19. The great news is that you can now book a boat-bound getaway far in advance. Cruise lines are releasing schedules earlier than normal, so get out your 2022 and 2023 diaries and start planning a cruise post COVID-19.
Usually, cruises are released 18 months before departure. Now, several lines are opening booking for 2023, including mainstream family favourites like Norwegian and Carnival and luxury brands like Crystal and Viking.
It is predicted that new health protocols will be put in place. They may include temperature checks, reduced passenger numbers, compulsory health questionnaires, screening and increased onboard medical capabilities. To help with social distancing, it’s likely there will be more meal sittings and theatre showings.
If you’re anything like us, and desperate to get away again, this news is music to your ears. Booking a holiday, even a distant one, is the perfect way of switching on a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel!
What’s happening at the moment
Currently cruise lines coming in and out of Australia (including Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises) have extended their sailing suspension through to September 2020. The dates differ by cruise line. For example Carnival has suspended sailings through to 17 September, Royal Caribbean to 30 September. As the health crisis evolves these dates may change again. The best way to stay up-to-date is to check announcements on the cruise line websites or speak to a travel consultant.
Cruise lines continue to be guided by public health authorities and government advice on when cruises should resume. While cruise operations are suspended, cruise lines are creating a new health framework to prepare for when passengers can return. Royal Caribbean, for example, have launched a Healthy Sail panel of experts responding to COVID-19 advice. Their aim is to secure a smooth and safe return to cruising once it re-opens.
Most cruise companies are offering guests who’ve had their cruise cancelled either a full refund or an incentive for rescheduling their trip. Royal Caribbean is offering the option for patrons to delay their bookings, gain a full refund or enjoy Future Cruise Credit at a higher value (typically about 125%).
Carnival have a similar policy with their Enhanced Value, which combines Future Cruise Credit with onboard credit. They have also released information about heightened sanitation and cleaning measures.
How to plan for cruising post COVID-19
Cruise Critic offer their tips for planning a future cruise. Pick an upcoming milestone (like an anniversary of big ‘0’ birthday) for a multi-generational trip. They also recommend considering the far-away, bucket-list destinations that you’ll be longing for once lockdown eases up. With ample opportunity to save up, this might be the way to go! Another tip is to keep a close eye on the better deals and improved availability on offer, including on-deck add-ons and cruise credit.
In the meantime, the best thing to do is keep following government advice and check regular updates or speak to a cruising and family specialist travel consultant. We recommend Travel With Kidz consultants – they’re specialists in family travel and by supporting these consultants, you’re also supporting Aussie small business owners.
Smartraveller urges everyone to purchase travel insurance, including for domestic trips, and recommends reading the fine print.