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As we seemingly inch closer to a viable vaccine against COVID-19, confidence in cruising increases. What you may not know is that some hardy cruisers have already been sailing over the last couple of months.

That’s right! The Center for Disease Control (CDC) mandated test cruises this fall for which cruisers volunteered to sail while cruise lines practiced new safety procedures and protocols.

The trends we see emerging in a post-COVID world include smaller cruises, small ports, and expanded safety measures. Find out more below!

More Smaller Ships Are Setting Sail

The primary message among leading medical professionals on stifling the spread of the ongoing pandemic? You guessed it — smaller groups. That applies to cruises, too.

The industry is abuzz about the jump in demand for small-ship cruising. River and luxury cruises with ships carrying 200 people or less seem to be of peak interest. Here are just a couple of snippets from cruise industry professionals:

  • Cruise Critic noted a 21-percent spike in interest for luxury and river cruises among its readers since January before the COVID-19 outbreak occurred.
  • Gary Murphy, Co-owner of AmaWaterways, pointed to his data concluding that “big-ship clients are looking for smaller vessels, and…discovering [river cruising] for the first time.”
  • Another co-owner of AmaWaterways, Rudi Schreiner, shared that their newest vessel scheduled for debut in 2021 is already 70 percent booked for the year. They’ve even opened 2022 sailings to meet the demand.
  • Finally, an industry survey of 4,600 cruisers revealed nearly a fifth of them felt a smaller ship size was a top consideration when planning their next cruise.

Regardless of political leanings that seem to have taken center stage as of late, the message of personal health and safety seems to be sticking. Small ship cruising is in. While most of these comments came from the river cruise market, even ocean vessel cruisers are seeking smaller experiences.

But that’s not all…

Smaller Ports Offer a New Experience

Most seasoned cruisers have already had their fill of giant port experiences. Megaships docking side-by-side, disembarking thousands of tourists for a day at a time. It’s a right of passage. In today’s environment, though, cruisers are leaning toward smaller ports, too.

The Arctic and Greenland, Antarctica, The Galapagos Islands, smaller island nations like Iceland, Japan, and New Zealand are all flashing hot on travel experts’ radars.

These smaller ports (which can only accommodate smaller cruise ships) offer a greater sense of safety for the simple reason that there are fewer people — both tourists and natives. Furthermore, these smaller ports deliver something a giant port often can’t.

Namely, smaller port shore excursions offer the opportunity for a real immersion into the atmosphere, culture, and history of a place. This may be precisely the kind of intimate and enriching experience cruisers crave right now.

What Cruisers Can Do to Be Safe

The CDC’s recent release of its framework for conditional sailing entailed a phased approach for the resumption of cruise ship passenger operations. Additionally, you can take these few added safety measures to better ensure a safe and exciting trip.

Bring all your normal pandemic gear. Whatever you normally carry with you now shouldn’t be left at home. Your face masks, your sanitizing wipes, and maybe even the extra box of latex gloves now sitting at the bottom of your pantry. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, they say.

We say, smart move.

Trade out that stowed bottle of alcohol. Most ships allow passengers to carry on 1-2 personal bottles of wine or other alcohol. Why not exchange one of them for a different kind of alcohol… hand sanitizer? You can never have enough on hand.

Buy that extra cruise insurance policy. If there was ever a time to consider it, it’s now. The key is, be sure to read it. If you do purchase one, and you don’t receive the care or coverage you believe you deserve, you may have grounds for a legal claim.

What Cruisers Can Do to Be Safe

Beyond that, just be smart and follow the rules you would typically follow at home and you’re sure to have a great time — without sacrificing safety.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.