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Pandemic Be Damned - I'm Booking Cruises

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The cruise and travel news isn't pretty. Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our vacations - yours and mine. The news isn't all bad, though. Cruising is a no-go at the moment, but if you don't mind a few precautions including 72-hour pre-testing, there are currently several destinations that are open to Americans needing a land-bound escape - and don't we all! In fact, an escape to an island in the tropics would look really good right about now. Most of the Caribbean Islands are welcoming flight-bound Americans, including Aruba, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands. So are the Mexican states of Quintana Roo, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

But what if you're a cruise fanatic? You're no doubt having cruise withdrawal symptoms and feeling a little depressed. There hasn't been ship at sea in nearly six months (unless you're an unlucky crew member still trying to get home). Ocean journeys are now off limits until at least the end of November, with Princess Cruises cancelling all their sailings through mid-December. The exception to this new policy are some smaller-ship adventure cruise lines exempt from CDC/CLIA suspension policies, but even these have had rebounds, with Hurtigruten, Aida and UnCruise returning to port with new positive cases of Covid-19 shortly after re-starting operations. With U.S. states experiencing spikes in cases and a backlash of folks rebelling against mask-wearing and social distancing, I wonder how long it will really be before ships can safely take to the open water again.

But what kind of cruise specialist would I be if I didn't live by example. Do I feel comfortable cruising for the remainder of 2020? No. Do I even believe there will be any cruising before the end of this year? I think not. That has not stopped me, though, from looking ahead to 2021 and 2022. I choose to think optimistically, and despite what the CDC and the average non-cruising Joe public thinks of cruising ("a floating Petri dish") and bad publicity in general, I choose to remain optimistic that cruising will come back from these dismal times. It will look much different when it does. New health and safety precautions and policies will be in place, and some risk may still be involved, and I will be ready.

In line with this thinking, I've booked several of my own cruises for 2021 and 2022. Thinking that a smaller ship to one destination would be the safest bet, our first return to the ocean will be aboard Oceania Insignia to Bermuda in July of 2021. Our second ship of optimism is another smaller ocean vessel in May of 2022 aboard the Viking Sky to the Mediterranean, something we rescheduled from May of 2021 with the thinking that such a port-intensive itinerary would be more likely to actually take place two years from now. The third and final cruise added to our roster is a 10-day Iceland/Scotland/Norway scheduled for July of 2022, a re-booking of a much-wished-for 2020 cruise that was cut by the cruise line due to the suspension of operations, re-booked with the hope that the world will get it's act together by then.

Will these cruises actually sail? Will they go forward without incident? Will the pandemic still figure into the equation? I have no idea. But I do know that I now have something to look forward to with the assurance that I can cancel should things start to go south. What about you? Are you an avid cruiser brave enough to take a leap? I think you are!
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