You will be greeted with a thermometer and there will be no evening buffet, but whoever wants to embark on cruise ships will soon be able to do so.
Despite the carnival Diamond Princess working as a huge floating symbol of the early days of the coronavirus, many are eager to pack and head to the reading deck to buy a shuffleboard and a daiquiri. Bloomberg News spoke to many industry experts to report about what a pandemic pleasure cruise will look like.
For starters, massive ocean liners are not yet part of the equation. The CDC still maintains a ban on any ship with more than 250 passengers and crew until July 24. As such, river cruises are the first option. Bloomberg spoke to the head of American Queen Steamboat Co., with a maximum capacity of 166 passengers and 70 crew members for trips on the Mississippi or Ohio rivers. Reservations are available for the end of June.
In what is certainly the first to be proud of a travel company, American Queen's domestic destinations guarantee that "passengers who become ill or feverish at any time during the voyage will be removed from the ship and transferred to a local hospital". There will be temperature checks for everyone on board, and excursions will have "limited capabilities".
Competitor American cruise lines, also eyeing the relaunch at the end of June, promised hourly cleaning rounds and full PPE, including shields and gloves for all passengers and crew. All luggage will be sanitized before being shipped, and the company will provide “disposable covers” for high-touch items, such as television remote controls.
Other companies looking to return to the waters at the end of the year are installing UV disinfection systems for public spaces and "nebulization protocols" that involve spray rooms with a sanitizing mist.
There are still tremendous unknowns for this vast luxury industry, including international standards and what the boundaries for excursions will look like. A common point is the end, at least for now, of the buffet. This plus the obvious: if there is market demand for a travel style prone to disease outbreaks before anyone even heard of Covid-19.
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