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In a webinar last week, an executive at CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) discussed how safe cruising is compared to other types of activities. Charles Sylvia, CLIA’s VP of Trade Relations, urged travel agents to ask their clients not to cancel their upcoming cruises. You can read more about it here.
My Problem with Pushing Cruises Right Now
This message really bugs me for a few reasons.
First of all, the stats on how safe cruising is are a little misleading. Sure, “the fact that more than 2 million people have sailed on our ships safely since the resumption has begun” is true. My daughter and I are two of those people who safely cruised last October. But that doesn’t reflect what has been happening the last three weeks since Omicron has raged through the U.S.
Cruise fans love to point out that the positivity rate on a cruise ship is only 4% or less while it’s 25+% on land. However, that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Only the crew is tested on a regular basis. Once passengers are on the ship, they are only tested if they report symptoms to the medical center. On cruise message boards, I see folks recommend to other cruisers to keep your symptoms to yourself so that you don’t get moved to an isolation room and ruin the rest of your cruise. It’s likely that passenger positivity rate is way understated.
But regardless of how safe cruising is right now, the truth is that the overall cruising experience is diminished at the moment because of Omicron. Crew members are quarantined, which means healthy crew members are doing more work and different jobs. Shows are canceled due to sick entertainers. Ports are being changed or skipped due to certain islands not allowing ships with high positivity rates to dock.
I’m not saying that all of these situations are happening on every cruise right now, but they are happening on many cruises to some degree. If travel agents push their clients not to postpone or cancel their cruises, they may end up disappointed with the current cruising experience. That could turn them off to cruising in the long-term. That’s why I think the message from CLIA is short-sighted. Sure, being brutally honest about current cruising conditions might hurt short-term commissions. But if agents want to retain repeat customers, postponing a cruise might be the right choice.
My Cruise Postponement
My family was set to go on a cruise soon, and we made the decision to postpone it. No, it’s not because we’re scared of getting Covid. It’s because the cruise costs a lot of money, and we don’t want a diminished experience when we’re paying that much. We look forward to seeing all the shows and spending time in the kids’ clubs. If the entertainment is pared down too much, we would definitely be disappointed.
Thankfully, my travel agent did not try to convince us to keep the cruise. She changed it for us, no questions asked.
Personally, I don’t care if people cruise now or cancel. Do what’s right for you. Just make sure you do your research first to see what it’s really like on board now. And, don’t give me a hard time for cancelling. I love cruising, and I hope to cruise again soon. Just not now.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.