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Over the last few months, you’ve likely heard numerous stories about ruined vacations due to COVID-19. One of the hardest-hit industries is the cruise industry. Even Disney Cruise Line has pushed its canceled sailings into October.

As cruise lines look to get things back on track and resume sailings later this year, the question on everyone’s mind isn’t really when sailings are going to happen, but how. In other words, if cruise lines want bookings to return to normal, they need to take measures to help the public feel safe when they come on board.

What are some of these changes that cruise lines are or should be considering?

The Problem with Cruise Ships and Public Health

Cruise ships have a “the more the merrier” type of philosophy – and they’re built for it. Some cruise ships are large enough to house 9,000 crew and guests on their ships. This is part of the reason why some illnesses can move like wildfire through a ship — because everyone is mingling and staying in close proximity to one another.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viruses such as norovirus sickened almost 125,000 cruise passengers between 2008 and 2014. And as was seen with COVID-19 earlier this year, fatal illnesses can also occur.

Health and Safety Changes Cruises Lines Need to Make

For your safety, there are several changes that cruise lines could make to help stop outbreaks before they start. Look for these enhanced safety protocols to help give you peace of mind if you’re thinking of taking a cruise:


Both guests and crew should be screened when embarking on the ship. Look for a controlled access point for people getting on the ship where a health and safety survey is completed as well as possible temperature checks.

Screenings can also be done while cruising. The crew should be on the lookout for anyone displaying symptoms and possible institute temperature checks each time someone re-embarks from ports of call.

Enhanced Sanitation

The cruise line should endeavor to increase their cleaning procedures aboard the ship. This includes wiping down high traffic areas more frequently such as tables, work surfaces, door handles, handrails, chairs, elevator controls, and telephones.

Changes in Dining Options

People on cruises seem to love the luxurious self-service buffet, but they’re a no-go during a global pandemic. Make sure you find out what the cruise line you’re considering traveling with is doing with their buffets. Are they moving to table service or crew-manned serving stations to help limit the spread of disease?

Cruise lines may also start to use reservation systems where they haven’t previously to comply with strict capacity limits in restaurants onboard.

What You Can Do to Ensure Your Own Safety on a Cruise

The cruise line will do what they can to help you stay safe, but you also have to practice good habits. If you plan to cruise, then you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available
  • Bring cleansing wipes to wipe down surfaces yourself, such as the television remote in your stateroom or light switches
  • Stay away from self-serve foods
  • Drink only bottled water
  • Stay hydrated

What You Can Do to Ensure Your Own Safety on a Cruise

Cruising is an activity many people enjoy and will likely continue to enjoy into the future. However, before you buy a ticket, it’s important to check that the cruise line you choose is taking your health and safety seriously.


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.