Wednesday 3 May 2023

Has Covid changed cruising?

After our cruise last year, when I and my husband both unfortunately caught Covid on board, I wrote a post about how Covid has changed cruising. At the time I would have said that Covid had definitely changed cruising. But having recently returned from two short cruises, one with Royal Caribbean and one with Disney, I thought I'd write an update post about how things area looking nearly a year on. Pre-Covid, cruise ships were already notorious for spreading illness quickly, and at the beginning of the pandemic there were many large Covid outbreaks on board cruise ships.

The biggest difference from our cruise last year is that you no longer need to provide any information about vaccination or produce any negative tests. You do always have to fill out a health questionnaire before cruising. In the past this was aimed at catching the norovirus type sickness bugs but now it asks for things like a temperature, cough, loss of taste or smell and so on. 

On our last cruise all the crew were wearing masks at all times but this was no longer the case. This time I spotted a single passenger wearing a mask on the first day, and after that none. 

We noticed that Royal Caribbean still had plenty of hand sanitiser stations dotted around the ship, in particular outside restaurants (along with full sink hand washing facilities), by the lifts and at the main entrances to the deck areas. On the Disney ship we didn't see a single extra hand sanitiser station, just the usual hand washing areas outside restaurants.

Royal Caribbean hand sanitiser station

On the Disney Wish, which is a newer ship that first launched after Covid, we did notice that some of the areas in the main buffet are behind screens and you ask for the food that you would like to be served to you. Also on both ships you can no longer help yourself to ice-cream. However on the Wish there are still many drinks stations and other food areas where you can help yourself so I'm not sure that the screens can really make much difference. 

There are many times on a cruise that you are in a tightly packed area - for example while dining, in lifts, in theatres, in queues to get on and off the ship or for excursions. It's impossible to social distance at these times and no-one seemed to be worried. 

In the two Facebook groups for the cruises I didn't see any anxiety about Covid before we sailed. And in only one of the groups did anyone admit to having come back with Covid. On the last cruise it felt as though most of the ship brought it home! So maybe with so many people either being vaccinated or already having been exposed to Covid it just isn't so much of a risk anymore, and you are no more likely to catch Covid on a cruise than anywhere else.

So I would have to say that no, a couple of years on, Covid hasn't changed cruising. When the cruises first started back up there many have been a few additional changes made, vaccination requirements, extra signage and so on, but they have now disappeared and only the usual pre-Covid health measures like encouraging frequent hand washing have remained.

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