TAMPA, Fla. — Many people may have had to pause their plans for cruises during the pandemic, but travel experts say cruising appears to be on the rebound as people regain confidence in traveling again.
“Since the pandemic’s regulations have lifted, we’ve been on seven cruises,” said Shari Mereness, an avid cruiser and the owner of the travel agency Seas Today Travels.
“Just in the time since I got up this morning, I have already booked two cabins on Carnival,” said Mereness.
According to AAA, cruising is making a strong comeback. AAA reports cruise bookings during the past four weeks are twice as strong as this time last year.
“People love to go on ocean cruises and they love to go on river cruises, and they weren’t able to do that during the pandemic, so there’s tremendous pent up demand, and now they have confidence based on how the pandemic is waning and what they’re hearing from the CDC, they are ready to go,” said Debbie Haas, the Vice President of Travel with AAA-The Auto Club Group.
A few months ago, cruise ships faced COVID outbreaks as omicron swept the nation. Fast forward to last week, the CDC lowered the cruise ship COVID-19 Travel Health Notice to Level 2, labeled as Moderate. The CDC still recommends you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel.
AAA says 43% of Americans who plan to cruise in the future are satisfied with the cruise industry’s overall response to the pandemic. Since the return of sailing, cruise lines have implemented various safety protocols.
“Buffets may not be what they used to be,” said Haas. “You might have masking requirements in some situations, although a lot of those are being eased, and you’ll also see that the staff is cleaning very rigorously on board.”
Experts suggest travel insurance to protect both your health and your wallet, and they also say a travel advisor or agent may help navigate it all for you to book with confidence for your next trip.
“I feel safer on a cruise than I do in a supermarket right now,” said Mereness.