Cruise passengers facing strict Covid rules on cruises indefinitely – ‘here to stay’

Cruises: Simon Calder explains new 'hot areas' on ships

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Cruise line executives have now said they think the strict regulations will be ‘here to stay’ long after the pandemic has finished. Extensive cleaning and handwashing could be enforced even after global cases drop.

Gina Dunnett, director of Azamara, said: “Yes, a lot of them are here to stay. I think people will just become accustomed to them.”

Rules currently in place on many major cruise lines include hand sanitising between different areas, social distancing and mask wearing.

Crew members have also stepped up regular cleaning schedules with many cruise lines cleaning far more extensively than before.

Jeannette Coto Dou, vice president of Celebrity Cruises, said that many of the processes had actually been in place before the pandemic.

She said: “I think a lot of the protocols that we have in place- like hand sanitisers and promoting washing your hands- have always been in place.

“Maybe the rest of the world had to [change the rules] but [for cruises] it was always important to keep our guests safe.

“There was always a huge standard for us. I think some of the [current protocols] were there, and they will always be in place. Maybe we’re just communicating them differently.”

All major cruise lines will also have an emergency medical system in place for any guests that become ill onboard.

Coto Dou added that masks “might be one of the first things you see go. I do think that physical distancing, we’ll see become a narrower distance but none of us have a crystal ball.”

Social distancing measures have fluctuated on many cruise lines with restrictions being tightened again in the US when the Delta variant emerged.

Buffets served by crew staff could also be ditched in the next few months with self-service on its way back.

Many of the first ships to return to the seas set sail at only 25 percent of capacity. That number has gradually increased as restrictions are lifted.

Some major cruise companies have already introduced vaccination passports to keep passengers safe and others may follow.

One challenge for cruise operators is keeping passengers safe on land and liaising with land providers.

Niamh McCarthy, managing director of Excursions Ireland, said: “We’re constantly communicating with the coach operators, the guides, the venues.

“Yesterday was a bubble tour, today they’re independent. It is a challenge.”

Cruise operators have had to provide detailed information on each destination to advise passengers who are stepping ashore.

Each destination may have different rules on facemasks, social distancing and vaccination passports.

Paul Melinis, managing director of APT cruises, told nervous cruise passengers could consider a river cruise which offers smaller and less crowded boats.

Any UK tourists booking a cruise are advised to check the Government website for the latest travel restrictions and ensure they have travel insurance.

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