Cruise Ships Still Not Permitted to Sail from U.S. Ports
Greece opens to tourists in mid-May, while the new Celebrity Apex begins 8-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries from Athens this summer.
More than 30 countries around the world are welcoming tourists again and the European Union anticipates opening to fully-vaccinated tourists this summer despite mixed messages from the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) and travel warnings from the State Department.
Many domestic and international air routes, hotels and all-inclusive resorts following health and safety protocols have resumed for fully-vaccinated travelers. Meanwhile, cruise ships remain tied to the dock in American ports awaiting the end of the CDC cruising ban imposed a year ago. In fact, the only sounds about cruising emanating from the CDC since last October is the sound of crickets.
Some 400,000 people have cruised from foreign cruise ports since December with a mere 10 COVID-19 cases being detected, treated and contained onboard without disrupting the vacations of other guests aboard.
In response to inaction by the CDC, major cruise lines have established new Caribbean homeports in the Bahamas, St. Martin and Antigua and will offer five to seven-night Caribbean cruises this summer for fully-vaccinated cruisers testing negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding. Furthermore, the State of Florida with five cruise homeports recently sued the CDC to take action to restore the million-plus jobs currently shutdown.
One cruise line executive recently told me “. . . (we) expect to offer a great vacation experience in an environment as safe or safer than a trip to the grocery store.” Hopefully, the successful implementation of this bold move by the cruise industry will motivate the CDC to act by lifting the ban in the weeks or months ahead, especially for fully-vaccinated adults and their children.
With travel conditions, restrictions and protocols remaining a moving target at many destinations, I recently acquired a new tool designed to access up-to-date country-specific entry requirements. SHERPA is an independent database updated daily with timelier information than what’s found on most government sites. While I cannot advise you whether it’s safe to travel, the information gleaned from SHERPA will help clients make better informed decisions.
A recent survey revealed that three-quarters of adult Americans are ready to travel as soon as they are vaccinated. But please keep in mind such decisions are personal and differ from individual to individual based on many factors.
In the post-pandemic world, do-it-yourself travel planning clearly has become difficult, if not impossible, so seeking professional assistance has become a must even for domestic travel. In the near term, I expect more travelers to pursue uncrowded vacation locales ― smaller cities and remote locations that take them closer to nature and outdoor activities. I also see an uptick in small-group escorted tours and multi-generation families traveling for land vacations or small ship cruising. More than a dozen new ships will debut later this year and in 2022, including several small “exploration” ships.