GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Cruises are slowly starting to sail again, traveling to ports that will allow tourists.
If you are wondering what the new “COVID-19 cruise experience” is like, local travel agent Lori Visser recently went on a simulation cruise and is sharing her experience.
“They were so excited to have guests onboard,” said Visser, a travel agent with Cruise Planners American Express TravelWorld.
Visser just got back from a simulation cruise with Royal Caribbean. She and her daughter traveled from Miami to a private island, called Coco Cay, in the Bahamas.
“Everyone had to be vaccinated to get on the ship, they take a photograph of that,” said Visser.
Currently, she says, all major cruise lines require proof of vaccination along with a negative COVID-19 test.
That could change. This test run prepared for non-vaccinated passengers. Some people volunteered to act as non-vaccinated passengers. Vaccinated guests were given wristbands.
“You are never asked once you are on the cruise whether you are vaccinated or not, they just look for that wrist band,” said Visser.
Visser says on Royal Caribbean everyone must wear a mask when moving around inside. Once outside guests can go mask-free unless they are in crowded areas.
“They have areas that are for vaccinated only or everyone if there are unvaccinated people on board like children under 12 that can’t be vaccinated,” said Vissor.
She says the same goes for shows and dining. Cruise lines have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and doctors to create the new protocols.
Visser says the biggest difference is more sanitation stations and less people on the boat. The ship she was on holds more than 6,600 people but only 1,000 were onboard. Quarantine quarters have also been added to the ships.
“It sounds complicated before you go, but once you go you don’t really think about it too much other than just throwing your mask on,” said Vissor.
The pandemic is constantly changing and cruises are accommodating. Most companies are providing full refunds and sometimes offering more money for a future cruise.
Keeping up with the changes is a full-time job, which is why you may want to use a travel agent who can keep you up to date and ready for your trip.