Cruising is slowly but surely resuming in parts of the world. Take a look at what cruising will look like across the industry.
Guests looking to travel via cruise will see quite a few changes onboard. Gone will be the days of self-serve buffets and over crowded shows. Let’s dive in to the new policies the industry is adopting.
There is currently a no-sail order in effect for all US ports. That has recently been extended through September 30, 2020. Many cruise lines have extended their cancelations into November 2020.
One cruise ship, the MSC Grandiosa has set sail in the on a seven night voyage out of Genoa. The ship made several stops in Italian ports. One family decided to defy the new policies and protocols put in place to ensure both guest and crew safety onboard and was denied re-entry onto the ship.
We are pleased to know that cruise lines are sticking to their rules and putting guest safety first. We hope this will deter other guests from defying the rules and putting passengers and crew at risk once more ships begin to sail.
Once onboard the ship guests will notice some changes from pre-COVID-19 cruising. Most cruise ships have announced that they will initially be sailing at 50 to 70% max capacity. This will make it easier to social distnace at shows and other events onboard as well as allow guests to keep a bit of distance in the hallways, at pools and other common areas.
There will be changes to the muster drill that is required on every ship. Every guest onboard will still be required to take part in the drill but ships will most likely move toward one of two new types of the drill. Some ships will go to a mobile version where guests will be required to watch via their mobile device. Another option for ships will be a muster drill that takes place within the staterooms of each guest on their stateroom television.
Masks will be required in areas of the ship where social distancing cannot be maintained. Examples include hallways outside of cabins where the aisles are quite narrow and also the elevators.
In terms of food areas, buffets will be set up similar to before but will not be self serve. Instead, crew members will dish up your desired items limiting contact. Self serve ice cream will likely be the same with crew members serving the ice cream. These areas will remain all you can enjoy but with no self service option.
Drink stations will also not be self serve to limit contact and cross contamination. These areas will also be manned by crew members who will serve guests.
Seating within the restaurants will be rearranged to encourage social distancing. Since social distancing is able to be enforced in these areas, masks aren’t likely to be required.
Menus will either be single use or be accessed via guests mobile device. Cruise lines such as Disney Cruise Line who utilize their own app, called the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App, already had menus available via that service. Other cruise lines who were not using this technology will begin to move toward similar services.
Bar service will likely be limited with guests encouraged to order from a table that has been properly social distanced. If bar service is available, seating will be limited and chairs will be properly spread out to limit contact and maximize space between guests.
Related: Rebooking a Disney Cruise
For shows and in movie theaters, ships will move to a first come first serve system and some may also add additional showings to ensure all guests are able to attend. Social distancing will be enforced by either closing off certain seats or partitioning the seats accordingly. Theaters and seating for shows will not fill to capacity. Because ships are sailing at less than max capacity, social distancing will be easier to enforce.
For group events and activiites such as alcohol tastings, crafts and trivia, attendance will be limited and many ships will move to a prebooking system to ensure social distancing. Tables and seating will be adjusted to enforce distancing as well.
This would be the one area that the ship cannot control in terms or third party excurions. For the forseeable future, we see all ships moving to a policy of no third party excursions. All excursions must be booked through the ship and must be approved by the ship. Other ships could also move to just at-sea days with no ports.
This is the the policy MSC has adopted. It is also the policy the family who was left behind decided to ignore. Because the family ignored this particular policy. All ships will require each guest to sign a promise to follow these new rules. Because the family ignored the policy, the ship could not ensure they were not exposed and therefore denied them re-entry for the safety of the rest of the ship.
Busses for all exsursions will be sanitized. Tour guides and excursion operators will undergo health screenings prior to each excursion and will wear masks. We also expect guests will be required to wear masks while on busses.
Temperature checks will be required upon before guests are allowed to re-board the ship at each port.
Sanitizing and cleaning will be elevated throughout every aspect of the ship. Air sanitizers will be installed throughout the ships as well. High traffic areas will undergo constant cleaning and disinfecting.
Additional hand sanitizer and hand washing available to guests and crew throughout the ships.
Guests and crew members will have temperatures checked daily throughout the entire sailing. These checks will likely occur at restaurants prior to allowing guests in to eat. This helps to monitor health status for everyone on board.
One interesting thing we are hearing is that the traditional cruise cards that guests wear on lanyards will be replaced with something similar to a Walt Disney World Magic Band. Guests would get a wrisband or a puck that could be swiped or scanned at every turn whenever necessary. For ships that continue the use of cards, swipe or scan capabilities would be used to reduce contact. Royal Caribbean, Virgin, MSC and Princess cruise lines are already starting to implement this technology and we expect more to follow suit.
All cruise lines are required to put together a comprehensive emergency plan to handle the event. Enhanced medical training will be required of crew. Medical staff will be trained to handle COVID-19 patients will be on board. Quarantine rooms and free treatment of guests with symptoms will be provided. Should a case of COVID-19 be discovered while on board, an emergency response plan will be activiated. Ongoing training and drills will be adminstered to crew members to learn how to address and handle the situation.
Last but not least, time slots to disembark at the end of a sailing will be implemented and enforced.
There you have it. The forseeable future of cruising. We don’t think all of these policies will be permanently implemented. But, when cruising resumes expect these new rules and procedures to be in place.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.