No Vax Cruising—I Think This Is A Bad Idea | Travel Research Online


No Vax Cruising—I Think This Is A Bad Idea

With mixed emotions, I read story after story about all the cruise lines that are dropping the COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the Centers for Disease Control relaxes their advice concerning the disease.  One half of me says, “fantastic; finally, we can get back to normal!” And the other half says, “we are still very far from normal.”

Heaven knows that travel was one of the hardest hit industries when COVID hit in March of 2020. Our collective businesses essentially ground to a dead stop. And after 18 months, the wheels of travel commerce began to pick up speed once again, and it appeared that nearly two years of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days were coming to an end. But they weren’t.

As vaccines have become available and more people got the jab, the virus mutated and figured a way to thwart the vaccine. Vaccines never promised to prevent COVID entirely. Sometimes they do; often, they reduce the severity. Early on, we thought once you got COVID, you were good—like chicken pox. But that was not the case.  And now, it seems that the virus has found a way to re-infect someone shortly after having the virus for the first time.  There are still 3.5 million cases per month and 13,000 deaths per month in the United States alone. It’s clear that the virus is still with us.

If you will recall, the cruise lines took the brunt of the bad press at the onset of the pandemic with the 13 deaths on the Diamond Princess. And quite frankly, we cannot take that risk again. When you put several thousand people in a close environment, it is rife for any disease to spread—flu, a norovirus, and yes, COVID.

Inviting un-vaccinated guests onboard a ship unnecessarily increases the risk of outbreaks and subsequently severe illness or death.  Allowing un-vaccinated guests will undoubtedly boost the bottom line of the cruise lines and travel agents, but at what cost to the guest who sails?

Like all hospitality-focused businesses, cruise lines are having staffing issues and doing more with fewer people. Crewmembers are more stressed than usual (and under the best times, it is incredibly stressful to work on a ship) doing the work of two or three. Opening it up to un-vaccinated will bring more people and increase the pressure.  And let’s face it, the crew is integral to a good cruise. An unhappy crew will show in myriad ways, resulting in a poor guest experience, which may translate into fewer repeat cruisers.

As much as I want this to be over, the fact remains that it is not. And until it is over (or at least reasonably and reliably under control), we need to remain cautious.

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