Now, this might be a little problematic, I’m a travel blogger, and I can’t wait to start traveling again. However, I feel going forward; I am going to be a little bit more selective about the places I will visit. Over the years, we have brought you reports from several cruise ships and the fantastic times we have had. Cruises are great vacations: the opportunity to visit multiple destinations, fabulous food, great entertainment, and have a lot of great family fun. Despite all these positives, I’m not sure this outweighs the negatives. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I would go on a cruise again.
From the very start of the current pandemic, Cruise Ships encountered problems. Most readers will not have missed the tragic news stories from the Diamond Princess. However, even now several months on and with no ships currently sailing, there continue to be negative news stories. Yes, Coronavirus has not been good for the cruise industry.
Unfortunately, infections on cruise ships are not a new experience. Norovirus has been a repeated event in the cruise industry. Despite this, it has never put me off cruising, but recent events feel different.
Symphony of the Seas is the World’s largest cruise ship. She carries a maximum of 6680 passengers and 2200 crew. Her length is an astonishing 361 m and maximum beam 66 m, but in that space, there are almost 10000 people. Cruise Ships are crowded and are getting more crowded.
When cruise ships go into dry dock in recent years, invariably, they return with more cabins. The cruise industry is very competitive, and more guests can lead to reduced prices. However, this leads to a loss of guest space. Anyone who has been on a large resort ship will not have missed the lines to disembark or enter restaurants, crowded pool decks, and the proximity of tables in bars. Without significant changes, crowds on ships are inevitable, and at the moment, this feels uncomfortable.
Ships can easily introduce some changes, examples of which could include:
- Increased screening of crew and guests for infections.
- Increased sanitation around the ships.
- Removal of self-service buffet and drinks.
- Use of face masks by crew
Unfortunately, all the above will come at a cost but are probably unavoidable. However, how do you feel about sharing a dining table with passengers you have never met before? How about sitting next to someone in a theater? At the moment, I feel a bit jumpy about this, but suspect in the future this will become less of an issue.
However, two issues continue to worry me about taking another cruise. The first issue is the Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system(HVAC). HVAC has been under the spotlight in recent months, and whether it is the cause of infections on cruise ships. Many have suggested that HEPA Filters, as seen on aircraft, should be installed. However, the CDC has stated that there is no evidence that HVAC contributes to infection outbreaks. While the CDC analysis might be accurate, something will likely have to be done to return industry confidence.
The second area of concern is crowding. While guest crowding could be resolved to some degree, my more significant problem is over crew-only areas. We previously highlighted the behind the scenes tour of Allure of the Seas. One of the things I noticed of the tour was the number of crew crammed into small cabins. I suspect this must be a source of future outbreaks, and it would seem difficult, if not impossible, to deliver adequate social distancing in some crew areas.
My opinions will probably change over the coming years. However, for the foreseeable future, I suspect I will be skipping cruise ships. Cruises are great vacations, but safety has always got to be our first priority. There is a whole world to explore and cruising is not essential to achieve this. So for the moment at least, I’m not sure I would go on a cruise again.