This Week in Cruise Recovery: Challenges Surface for Cruise Lines

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spread across the country last week, more cruise ships also began reporting some cases aboard.

Delivering good perspective, though, was Zane Kerby, president and CEO, American Society of Travel Advisors. Calling out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kerby described the agency’s recent decision to tell consumers to avoid cruising, “a knee-jerk reaction.”

Also helpful to travel advisors, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Avalon Waterways and American Queen Voyages offered statistics and informational tidbits that could assist them in client discussions about incidences of COVID-19 on cruise ships, compared with land travel .

Challenges Surface

Still challenges exist. Due to cases aboard several ships, a few Caribbean ports did not permit ships to dock last week

Late last week, Royal Caribbean also announced voyage cancellations on some ships, including Vision of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas. A bit earlier, Royal Caribbean Group had provided this update for investors about the virus’ impact from chairman Richard Fain; based on booking information, he provided insight into what’s ahead for 2022 and 2023.

Norwegian Cruise Line also announced that it was canceling voyages on eight ships—postponing many restarts, including sailings on Pride of America in Hawaii. That said, Hawaii announced new port agreements with both Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. So, that should smooth things there for big-ship cruise operations when they do occur.

In other news, Scenic said that the oceangoing Scenic Eclipse was making its way from the Red Sea to Antarctica to restart cruising—its first scheduled cruise operations since the pandemic began.

Elsewhere, a few countries also eased visitor travel entry requirements, among them Ireland and the Bahamas.

Product News

MSC Cruises rolled out its 2022 “Cruise with Confidence” program. With that, the line confirmed all voyages through summer 2022 will follow the line’s health and safety protocol, flexible booking policy, vaccination and testing requirements, and return to independent exploration ashore.

Lastly, SeaDream Yacht Club, according to our sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor, announced private charter opportunities for 2023.

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