Cruise Fever

Inevitably, cruising is the first subject of conversation with our circle of friends. Most love to travel and are veteran cruisers. Almost all have already booked a cruise this year and next. 

Cruise fever isn’t confined to our circle of friends. According to a new survey by and Shipmate, lots of folks feel the same way. 93 percent are ready to cruise after being landlocked by the pandemic.

The Return to Cruising Survey coincides with the nearly first anniversary of the suspension of cruising in the United States. One year ago, we were in Oman aboard the Azamara Journey, preparing to fly home after mounting COVID fears truncated our exotic voyage. That was our last voyage to date and the ship’s as well. It’s now docked with two sister ships in Glasgow, Scotland. Little did we know when we walked down the Journey’s gangway that cruising would come to a standstill. 

As much as we want to sail again, we’ve been concerned about how the onboard experience would change when cruising resumed. A few cruise companies in Asia and Europe offered cruises even before the rollout of vaccines that would loosen the pandemic’s grip on travel.. Last summer several small-ship cruise lines faced coronavirus outbreaks, stretching from Europe to Alaska and French Polynesia. Others like MSC and Costa have successfully restarted cruising without Covid outbreaks, but have stringent testing and passenger/crew safety restrictions, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

That’s not the cruising we want to go back to. For most cruisers, wearing a mask and sitting six feet apart at dinner or around the pool would ruin the onboard experience. Comradery is a prime component of a cruise. Many of our lifelong friendships began on a ship during activities where passengers get to know each other. That interaction would be difficult if not impossible on today’s pandemic-altered voyages. 

There’s hope. The combination of vaccinations and testing is a game-changer. In the US, vaccinations have dramatically reduced transmission, hospitalization, and deaths. The chances of getting the virus once vaccinated are minimal. We’re now seeing cruises coming online where both crew and passengers have to be vaccinated. That, along with testing and enhanced ship health protocols, should make passenger interaction as it once was. At least we hope so, since we just booked two cruises.

We’re not alone. In the same survey, 72 percent reported they would cruise if everyone was vaccinated. Not surprisingly, in this era of conspiracy theories and misinformation,17 percent would not cruise if vaccination was required. That’s alright with us. We most likely wouldn’t want to sail them, anyway.