The writing is already on the wall. For the demand for cruises and flights to take off, all guests and crew members will need to be vaccinated.
Vaccinations are projected be available to every American adult who wants one by May 1. If substantial numbers of people have “vaccine hesitancy,” we may be able to get everyone vaccinated by June who initially wants shots. People will be able to celebrate the Fourth with others this year. It should also permit flying and cruising to begin in July—providing everyone that boards the ships or flights are vaccinated.
Having a blanket regulation that covers everyone is the fastest way to get things going quickly. The Israelis have proven this. They’ve declared that if someone wants to fly or sail—or enter a movie theater, mall, synagogue, or keep some jobs—they will have to be vaccinated. The alternative that the Israeli press has discussed is requiring that “green passports” with vaccination and COVID testing results be updated with new negative test results every two days.
Requiring vaccinations will be no problem on the premium lines. Seabourn’s President, Josh Leibowitz, told an audience of travel advisors last week that most of their potential guests are already vaccinated.
Crystal has just announced that summer sailings on the Crystal Serenity will begin on the 4th of July, too, but only guests and crew members who are vaccinated can go. Crystal says that its seven-night Bahamas itinerary calls at many smaller destinations. This will appeal to mature travelers who are vaccinated, upper-bracket guests who want to experience Crystal’s luxury product, and those who want to get on a ship.
Royal Caribbean has the same idea for less expensive mega-ships: They have based two of their largest ships in Haifa and Singapore, where the coronavirus is under tight control. By ensuring that everyone is vaccinated, Royal hopes that Americans and Europeans will share the fun. Flights to those locations already require that everyone onboard the plane is vaccinated.
U.S. Blasting News reports that Spain, the U.K., and European Economic Community are poised to replace quarantines and travel restrictions with health passports that prove that each person is vaccinated.
Cruise Critic reported in February the results of their survey, “A vast majority of respondents—81 percent—said they would cruise if vaccines were required. Only 5 percent said that a vaccine requirement would absolutely deter them from cruising. The other 14 percent said that they were unsure.”
What is the U.S. travel industry waiting for?
The “Big Three” (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian) should announce right now that vaccinations will be required, effective July 1, for every guest and crew member. This will do the job without any government intervention and likely send all travel stock prices soaring and double travel advisors’ business overnight.
Hopefully, IATA (or the FAA) will rule that starting July 1, everyone on international and domestic flights must be vaccinated. Thousands of scheduled flights will sell out in a matter of days, and hotels, tour companies, and tourist attractions will be back in business.
We can view these actions as a way of getting more people vaccinated. Or we can view it as the most cost-effective way of bringing the travel industry back to life.
Let’s end the speculation, uncertainty, and maneuvering. Getting more people vaccinated and ensuring that fliers and cruisers are safe should be our overriding objectives. If we can go back to earning a living, that’s so much the better.
Dr. Steve Frankel and his wife have sailed on most of the Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Azamara, Oceania, Regent, and Windstar ships on more than 40 cruises. For the past year, he writes a weekly column, Point-to-Point, for Travel Research Online (TRO) that’s read more than 80,000 travel advisors and industry leaders. Steve is the founder of Cruises & Cameras Travel Services and a Signature Select Travel Expert. Steve also provides writing and consulting services. He specializes in small-ship cruises and COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Steve has a doctorate in Educational Research and Marketing from Indiana University. He is one of the first travel advisors in the nation to earn a certificate in Epidemiology in Public Health Practice from Johns Hopkins University. Before his involvement in the travel industry, Dr. Frankel was the director of several organizations specializing in public policy studies. He’s the author of 13 books and a former Contributing Editor of The Washingtonian magazine. His email address is Steve@CruisesAndCameras.com, and he welcomes suggestions and inquiries about what he writes. He usually will reply within 24 hours.