You’ll be welcomed with a thermometer and there won’t be a late night buffet, but those looking to board cruise ships will soon be able to do so.
Despite Carnival’s Diamond Princess working as an enormous, floating symbol of the early days of the coronavirus, many are eager to pack their bags and head up to the lido deck for some shuffleboard and a daiquiri. Bloomberg News spoke with many industry insiders to report on what a pandemic-era pleasure cruise will look like.
For starters, massive ocean liners aren’t part of the equation just yet. The CDC still maintains a ban on any vessel with more than 250 passengers and crew through July 24. As such, river cruises are the first option. Bloomberg spoke with the head of the American Queen Steamboat Co., which maxes out at 166 passengers and 70 crew for tours down the Mississippi or Ohio rivers. Reservations are available for late June.
In what is surely the first ever such boast for a travel company, American Queen’s domestic destinations assure that “passengers who become sick or feverish at any point during their trip will be removed from the ship and transferred to a local hospital.” There will be temperature checks for all coming aboard, and excursions will be in “limited capacities.”
Competitor American Cruise Lines, also eyeing a late June relaunch, promised hourly sanitation rounds and full PPEs including face shields and gloves for all passengers and crew. All luggage will be sanitized before brought aboard, and the company will provide “disposable covers” for high-touch items like television remote controls.
Other companies eyeing a return to the waters later in the year are installing UV disinfection systems for public spaces and “fogging protocols” that involve spraying rooms with a sanitizing mist.
There are still tremendous unknowns for this vast luxury industry, among them international regulations and what borders will look like for excursions. One commonality across the board is the end, at least for now, of buffet dining. That plus the obvious: whether market demand exists for a style of travel that was prone to illness breakouts before anyone even heard of Covid-19.
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