During Covid time it has sometimes felt as though the CDC was talking about a kind of travel experience that was alien to most of us. Ask anyone dedicated to cruise sales, and you will quickly learn that cruising has maintained some of the highest guest satisfaction statistics in our industry. But, at times, we wondered if some kind of PR war wasn't being managed between the major lines and the CDC?
Happily, a truce seems to have been declared and, finally, cooler heads seem to have prevailed. The CDC has announced that if 95% of passengers and 98% of crew are fully vaccinated as a matter of policy, ships from North American ports will be able to resume cruising again in mid-July.
This is a rational alternative to the "test cruise" concept, which nearly everyone associated with cruising felt was unmanageable and poorly defined.
These resorts that have this amazing ability to float from place to place will, once again, gently glide out of berths in North America to take their rightful place and do what they were born to do: Provide affordable inclusive luxury to generations of travelers who deserve, now more than ever, to see the world from the upper deck.
I remember the day after I was unexpectedly and, I might add, undeservedly offered a position with Princess Cruises in San Francisco. That day, the line had a ship sailing up to Alaska, leaving Pier 35, slowly heading out the channel and under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Pacific Ocean. I had walked out on the bridge, stood in the middle of the walkway and watched as the Pacific Princess sailed beneath my feet.
I felt like the luckiest person on Earth. I was filled with emotion, because I knew at that moment that I would devote my life to helping everyday people experience what had previously been a refuge of the wealthy.
My own family had cruised once, arriving on a ship headed to Ellis Island. They were in steerage on cots in the bowels of the ship. I wanted as many regular people as possible to know what it might feel like to view the world unfolding from the upper deck of a modern cruise ship.
The three major cruise lines that account for 81% of total bookings in North America have crafted products that suit working families, providing a sense of wonder and luxury that many have only dreamed about before walking up their first gangway.
The 24-hour media, always starving for dramatic footage, has not always treated cruising fairly. There were tens of millions of consumer impressions of ships with sick passengers suffering from bouts of a norovirus. But what were the real facts?
In a typical year, one in 15 Americans is likely to get norovirus. But during a normal year of sailing, only one in 5,700 cruise ship passengers is likely to catch it.
You probably don't recall hearing those statistics on the evening news. You might wonder how such a huge misrepresentation of the cruise industry could occur. You might ask me where I got the statistics above?
They are from an article titled "Facts about noroviruses on cruise ships." It is posted on the CDC's website.
Thank you, CDC, for this more reasonable approach that will enable Americans who desperately need it to experience the fresh salt air and the gentle breezes that lie in wait just off the coast.