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Covid & Cruising August 2021

With the Delta variant COVID-19 cases blowing up around the world, vaccinated passengers are wondering it affect my cruise plans?

More likely it depends on where you’re cruising and the ports and destinations policies.

So far while there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 cases in a number of destinations from Sitka, Alaska to Mykonos, Greece, they have not had a serious impacted on cruise ship visits. There have been some Asian ports and islands in the Caribbean to continue to keep their ports closed but openings are still proceeding.

Current cruisers still need to be prepared for skipped ports and itinerary changes, as well as changing on board policies, such as masking as situations change.

Despite the rise, some travel agents have not seen a drop in bookings; Cruise Planners said that cruise bookings were up 27 percent week over week, with prices increasing on some itineraries. Slightly more than 30 percent of new cruise purchases had a 2021 departure date, Cruise Planners told us.

The Alaska cruise season started on July 19th with Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas making its first port call in Sitka. The town of 8,600 was a leader in the U.S. in vaccination rates, and COVID-19 cases were minimal. Nearly 70 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated and almost 75 percent have received at least one shot, according to the city’s website. Just last week Sitka experienced its largest spike of the pandemic, with 235 active cases and a third of the new cases are among vaccinated people, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The city’s alert level is at red, with indoor capacity in restaurants reduced to 50 percent and face masks again encouraged. But Serenade of the Seas made its first stop as planned. While the vaccination rate on the ship’s current sailing is 97 percent, higher than the town and Royal Caribbean has not indicated any change of itinerary, cruise lines do have the option of skipping a port where COVID-19 numbers are high.

What does the rising number of Delta variant COVID-19 cases suggest for the future of cruising? In mid May the British Health Service reported a quickly developing trend indicating that the Delta variant of Covid-19 from India was establishing itself in the British Isles. By the end of May the average 2,000 Covid cases per day had exploded to 20,000 cases a day. By the beginning of August two things were clear. First the death rate from the Covid virus had not increased at all with the increased new cases and the number of new cases per day had now dropped back to under 2,000 cases per day. The Delta variant of Covid-19 had burned itself out in England. And now most restrictions are being lifted and cruise ships are again being allowed to sail from English ports.

In the United States the first significant case numbers of the Delta variant of Covid-19 were recognized around June 1st and by June 20th they represented 83% of all tested COVID-19 cases. If the United States and other countries follow the pattern seen in the British Isles the pandemic should be back to controllable levels by mid to late August without significant new deaths.

The numbers would now seem to indicate that the future of cruising sees clear sailing in the near future.

Canada Opens To U.S. Tourists – Effective August 9: Fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents of the United States, who currently reside in the United States, will be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary travel.

Delta Airlines is more than doubling the number of daily flights between the U.S. and Canada starting in September, with a 150% increase in available seats. Customers will enjoy nonstop, easy access from multiple U.S. hubs to Canada’s largest business and leisure markets, including more flights to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, as well as restarted service to Winnipeg.

Biden Administration Reverses On International Travel – U.S. to keep international travel restrictions in place as coronavirus surges – In a reversal from what President Joe Biden voiced earlier this month when he said his administration was “in the process” of considering how soon the U.S. could lift the ban on European travel bound for the U.S. after the issue was raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the White House.

UK Airline Industry Calls for Reopening to Vaccinated US Travelers At the same time the CDC and U.S. Administration call for Americans not to visit the UK. Airlines in the United Kingdom and officials from London’s Heathrow Airport are advocating for the reopening of non-essential travel for vaccinated tourists from the United States.

Cruise Line MSC’s Seashore delivered in Italy – The cruise division of MSC Group has officially taken delivery of its new flagship the MSC Seashore. The vessel is the largest cruise ship yet built in Italy.

Frontier Airlines Launching Antigua and Barbuda Flights – Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines will launch a new service to the Caribbean nation of Antigua on December 4, with weekly service between Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport from Orlando International Airport.

Finland reopens to travelers from the UK – Finnish border restrictions have now eased, allowing travelers from the UK who have been fully vaccinated to enter with no additional quarantine or testing requirements.


CDC Gets Temporary Stay In Florida v. CDC

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked a judge’s ruling that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pandemic regulations for cruise ship operation were too onerous and arbitrary. The lawsuit, filed by Florida at the direction of Gov. DeSantis, claims that the CDC’s multiple-step process to allow cruising from Florida was overly burdensome, harming both a multibillion-dollar industry that provides some 159,000 jobs, as well as substantial income to Florida businesses and millions of dollars of revenue for the state. The June decision by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday required the CDC to provide clearer justification for its policies before July 17th when the CDC regulation would become recommendations instead of legal requirements. Instead of filing the more detailed requirement justifications to the District court, the CDC sought a stay of the order while they appealed the decision. The decision was two to one by the three-judge appeals panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was filed minutes before a District judge’s ruling was set to take effect. This keeps the CDC regulations regarding Florida-based cruise ships in effect while the CDC appeals the June decision by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday.


Covid Test Cancels Cruise To Nowhere Nearly 3,000 passengers and crew are disembarking a Dream Cruises Cruise To Nowhere in Singapore on Wednesday after being confined in their cabins when one passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

Norwegian Cruise Line Has Filed a Preliminary Injunction in Florida asking to invalidate the state’s law prohibiting businesses from requiring documentation of vaccination status. The cruise line filed the motion in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida asking the court to grant NCLH a preliminary injunction enabling its ships to resume sailing safely with its stringent health and safety protocols.

A Federal Judge In Florida has Again Blocked a Request from the CDC Florida District Judge Steven Merryday refused another CDC filing and said in the court filing on July 8th that his decision was “not about what health precautions against COVID-19 are necessary or helpful” but “about the use and misuse of governmental power.” He maintained his ruling against COVID-19 restrictions on Florida cruise ships The CDC had appealed an earlier ruling by Merryday in June that would turn strict CDC rules about cruise liners into nonbinding guidelines for Florida ships starting July 18th 2021.

Venice Bans Large Cruise Ships Government officials in Italy announced Tuesday that it had banned cruise ships from a key Venice lagoon as part of a larger effort to protect the area’s ecosystem and heritage, starting on August 1.

Seabourn Ovation to sail from Miami this winter
Seabourn has opened for sale a series of new itineraries for Seabourn Ovation operated out of Miami between November and April next year.

MSC Virtuosa to be christened in Dubai later this year
MSC Cruises has confirmed the naming ceremony for its newest flagship, MSC Virtuosa, will take place in Dubai on November 27th. The event will be hosted at Mina Rashid.

Cunard unveils plans for full return in 2021
A set of itineraries called The Overseas Escapes will range from two to 40-night sailings, visiting more than 49 destinations on board Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

MSC Cruises plans for new Port Miami terminal
The facility will be made up of a multi-level central body to serve as many as three latest generation ships at the same time, with up to 36,000 travellers transiting every day.

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