Everyone across the world has been dealing with the dangers of COVID-19 for a year, which makes the recent news of an effective vaccine very welcome.
The vaccine won’t be available to everyone right away, however, so many people have months before their travel plans can be followed through with. Still, the news of the vaccine has many people who love cruising excited and the cruise line industry feeling optimistic.
Here’s what you need to know about the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, how COVID is currently being handled on cruises, and what the vaccine could mean for your travel plans.
The COVID Vaccine Roll Out
In many states, vaccines will be rolled out in three phases. First, those on the front lines of fighting the pandemic such as healthcare workers and first responders will have access to the vaccine along with residents in long-term care facilities and those with high-risk conditions.
The second phase will include the vaccination of those with high-risk conditions that were not vaccinated in the first phase along with those who have public-facing jobs such as teachers.
Finally, phase three is likely to include anyone in the general population that wants a vaccine and missed out on the first two phases.
When Will the Roll Out Happen?
The first phase is already underway in many places with the approval of the Pfizer vaccine, but that particular vaccine’s supply is limited initially. Pfizer has stated that the United States will get additional doses beyond the first 100 million as early as summer 2021.
It’s important to keep in mind that the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are expected to be approved by the FDA for emergency use in the coming weeks and will provide more vaccines for those who want them.
The Cruise Line Industry in a COVID World
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created a conditional sailing framework for cruise lines that will allow vessels to operate but only after they have fulfilled the requirements.
This phased return to cruise passenger voyages will help the industry to restart, but it’s complicated.
The framework released by the CDC requires cruise lines to show the capability to test for COVID on board, quarantine and isolate any crew or passengers that may test positive, and enact appropriate social distancing requirements that help to protect those on board.
The CDC also wants cruise lines to conduct what are called mock voyages with volunteers playing passengers. It is thought that these voyages will help to test how well a cruise line can mitigate the risks of COVID and carry out the CDC’s requirements while they’re at sea.
Another requirement of the CDC once a cruise line has passed all of its procedures is to test every person who is part of the crew or a passenger on the ship both during embarkation and disembarkation.
After compliance has been reached, then cruise operations can resume, though voyages will be restricted to one week or less in length during the initial phases.
As you can see, this creates a lot of hurdles for the cruise line industry that go far beyond the availability of the vaccine if they want to resume cruising any time in the near future.
When Will Cruises Resume?
Many cruise lines will not resume cruising until sometime in 2021, some not until late spring. While there are cruise lines that have provided the public with timelines for making their ships operational again, it’s unclear at this point when cruising will resume.
Fortunately, during the time that the no-sail order was in effect, many cruise lines spent time creating protocols and processes that will keep everyone on board safe from the threat of COVID-19.
Still, it will take a while for the trial voyages to be completed and to put the protocols they came up with into action. After that, sailing should resume, bolstered by the approval of the vaccine.
Current CDC Recommendation? Avoid Cruising for Now
The CDC is still recommending that people refrain from cruising on all river and ocean cruises for the time being. This is certainly an evolving situation, but one that should be observed.
With the vaccine rollout, anyone who wants to take a cruise should be protected, but it may be a while before the CDC’s protocols can be fulfilled and cruising starts again.
It’s been a long year as people grapple with the impact of COVID-19, but the world is beginning to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Rest assured, one day soon cruising will return and life will once again resemble what it was pre-COVID.
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.