America ready to return to cruising? Indicators say YES.

Europe has seen a steady, incremental return to both large and small cruise ships over the past month. Cruise lines are encouraged that success there can be replicated here in the United States. Cruise executives referenced the European success in discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an effort to lift the agency’s No Sail Order.

MSC Cruises and Carnival’s Italian brand, Costa Cruises, each resumed operations with one ship out of Italy, with strict health and safety protocols and at a lower capacity than normal. Both planned to launch second ships in the Mediterranean this month and next, Costa on Sept. 19.

Prior to the large-ship restart, the European-based lines Hurtigruten, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Ponant Cruises had all been operating in European waterways in June, now offering the industry months of learning and data collection.

Norwegian Cruise Line has gone on the record stating that the example being set in Europe should indicate to the CDC that, with the proper protocols in place, cruise lines should be able to resume service in the U.S., as well.

SeaDream has plans to bring its 100-passenger SeaDream I to Barbados in November, to launch seven-day cruises visiting only St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, which are open to Americans, with protocols similar to what they were in Norway. This includes passengers getting tested before flying into Barbados and again before boarding, and onboard social distancing. As of now, mask-wearing onboard will not be mandatory. SeaDream also said it is likely that the line will have to limit passengers to its own shore excursions.

A combination of testing, onboard protocols and what passengers do before and after a cruise is all part of a successful cruising restart. Whether Americans will be as willing to abide as closely to such rules as Europeans have is unknown. Mask adherence among Americans on ships would have to be compulsory and enforced.

While the US No Sail Order is currently set to expire at the end of September, it is widely expected to be extended. The question remains on how long the ban will last, and if the European success stories will impact the CDC’s approach to opening our ports for departure.

As you plan your next cruise, you may have questions about safety, protocols and requirements. AAA Travel advisors are here to help. Leading the industry with our new SmartDepart Certification, these advisors are staying up to date on the impacts COVID-19 is having on the travel environment. To speak with you AAA Travel advisor, please call 1-800-222-7448.