A year has passed since the COVID virus arrived on U.S. shores and what a year! Staying home, wearing masks and social distancing became the norm. Yet, most of us are among the fortunate despite the “cabin fever” and our pent-up desire to travel again.
With vaccines rolling out in 2021 and the number of new COVID cases declining, we’re still not quite out of the woods. We must continue our safe healthy practices and remain patient for now.
The Vatican Museums and Rome’s Coliseum reopened this month in anticipation of a successful Italian tourist season in 2021.
As we all know, the cruise industry came to screeching halt by late March last year. Despite Canada’s recent announcement that its ports will remain closed to ocean cruise ships until the end of February next year, I currently anticipate a modest recovery by summer or fall. The best cruising scenario would be resumption of some ships cruising the Caribbean from American ports as early as May or June and, in the worst case, by late fall this year. Pricing discounts and additional onboard amenities continue to growing drive cruising demand for next year and in 2023.
When cruising does resume, you can expect numerous changes designed to improve the guest experience while maintaining a healthy onboard environment. Several cruise lines have implemented technological solutions creating an increasingly touchless experience, enhancing air purification systems and implementing new health protocols designed to detect and prevent virus spread. For example, the venerable life-boat drill will be replaced by technology on many ships and the standard buffet will no longer be self-service—both overdue improvements from my perspective.
In addition, some 20 new ships of various sizes and descriptions will debut as cruise lines replace older, less efficient vessels removed from service during the pandemic. I expect river and small-ship ocean cruises accommodating fewer than 1,000 guests will be among the first to cruise again.
The outlook for land-based vacations appears somewhat brighter even given the latest CDC testing requirements for all airline passengers arriving or returning to America. Most major resorts in the Caribbean and other destinations responded almost immediately with preparations to meet all new testing requirements. For land-based travel in Europe and other parts of the world, vacationers currently appear to prefer remote or smaller destinations rather than major cities for custom land vacations in the next 18 months. Private villa rentals also offer good vacation options for families.
Culture seeking travelers to Japan will visit the Ginkaku-Ji Temple and its gardens in Kyoto, Japan’s original capital, on a small-group escorted tour 0f 10 to 12 days.
In addition to demand for domestic travel closer home, I also am seeing renewed interest in travel to Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia-New Zealand, especially with tour operators launching varied small-group escorted tours averaging about 10 couples or half of the usual group size.
Now’s a good time to be planning or at least dreaming about your next vacation before the rush. I anticipate strong growth in travel by extended families and romantic getaways to celebrate missed anniversary trips last year. In addition, Antarctica appears to be a “hot” future destination to consider with exploration travel becoming increasingly popular (pun intended).
Most people, however, will probably need help navigating rapidly changing travel requirements and protocols that may vary from country to country and destination to destination. That’s why I introduced my “Travel with Confidence” travel packages last year to provide clients a hassle-free vacation experience when they travel in the future (details are on my website under Trip Packages).
I personally believe we are closer to the end of the pandemic than its beginning, only increasing my wanderlust to explore and experience the world again. I look forward to helping you do the same when you are ready to travel. In the meantime, stay happy and healthy!