What you need to know about the COVID-19 requirements for your next cruise – Community News

What you need to know about the COVID-19 requirements for your next cruise

(WGHP) — Dreaming of your next vacation?

You might consider a cruise.

Winter is a popular time for travelers to sail the high seas.

Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel at AAA, says cruise lines are prioritizing safety as things return to normal. “Cruises are 100% crewed, but they sail with less than 100% of the passengers, so the people who go have great experiences,” Haas said.

The CDC still lists you going on a cruise in the level 3 — or “high” category for the spread of COVID-19 — because of the short length of stay on board.

Cruise lines follow the so-called conditional sailing order.

The Conditional Sailing Order is a framework of CDC requirements that cruise lines must adhere to in order to sail. The CDC announced on Oct. 25 that it expects to make the guidance voluntary after Jan. 15.

Haas says this is proof that cruise lines have gone above and beyond for their customers.

Some of those measures include adding improved filtration systems to the ship, improving cleaning protocols and having an abundance of hand sanitizer on board. Travelers are required to wear masks inside all public areas. Changes are also likely to affect check-in and meals.

“For things like your check-in or even your safety videos, you no longer have to gather in large groups on an ocean cruise to have what they call the monster drill. You just need to watch a safety video, either in your cabin on the television or online on your phone,” Haas said. “You don’t normally find self-service buffets anymore. Instead, if there is a buffet, the staff will serve you.

Many cruise lines also require passengers to be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test one to three days before boarding.

When it comes to sailing with children who are ineligible for vaccination, Haas says families should consult their doctor to see if cruising is right for their personal situation. She also recommends talking to a travel advisor for help understanding specific requirements.

When it comes to preparing for the unexpected, she says cruise lines have worked to make their cancellation policies as flexible as possible, and you may not have to make your final payment until just before your trip.

Still, protecting your investment can be a smart way to start a journey.

“Travel insurance is another great way to make sure that if something happens before you have to leave, you’re covered for many of the common things that can interfere. Should you get COVID before or during your trip, you can have coverage there. And if something comes up regarding your flight, such as cancellations or lost luggage or even delays of just 3 hours, there are financial benefits to it.” said Haas.