2021 Cruise Travel Predictions and Changes to Expect
Posted on January 18, 2021
Now that 2020 is behind us, many cruisers are wondering what 2021 will hold for the industry. This new year has shown us the light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines continue to roll out and we get closer to the return of cruises. With everyone excited to get back to sailing, we’ve rounded up some of the top predictions and changes to expect for 2021 cruise travel.
1. Vaccine Distribution Is the Key To Cruises Resuming
While it’s still not certain when cruises will actually resume sailing, industry experts have emphasized that the Covid-19 vaccine will have a huge impact in returning to cruising safely. Cruise lines have just pushed out suspensions through the end of March and it is suspected that they will continue to do so until the vaccine is readily available to the public. We currently have not seen a rush to start CDC-required simulated sailings which leads us to believe cruise lines may just be riding out the storm until enough travelers are vaccinated to start cruising again. Although at a slower pace than planned, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now being distributed throughout the U.S. and are predicted to be widely available by mid-2021. However in Florida, where some of the most popular ports are located, the governor has allowed anyone 65 or older to receive the vaccine if available. With the average age of a cruise passenger being 47 (according to CLIA) paired with lower capacity levels, it’s possible that sailings will start with a pool of vaccinated cruisers. Norwegian Cruise Line has also made statements claiming they have been looking into whether or not they can require cruise passengers to be vaccinated and that it will certainly be required of their crew. Based on these findings, it seems the major cruise lines are leaning towards limiting the first sailings to healthy, vaccinated customers to ensure a successful recovery for the industry.
2. The Start To Sailing Will Be Slow, but Long Cruises Will Make a Comeback
When sailing does resume, it will be in phases. While the first few months of 2021 will continue to present challenges for the cruise industry, the remainder of the year looks encouraging with continued vaccine distribution and improvements to testing technology. Travel experts predict that due to pent-up demand for cruises growing, business will steadily improve as Summer approaches. The Conditional Sailing Order put in place by the CDC is also currently set to expire on November 1, 2021 which restricted the length of cruises to less than 7 days. By then, the vaccine should be completely rolled out and cruise lines will have had plenty of time to prove their ability to mitigate the virus. If everything goes as planned, longer cruises may be allowed again near the end of 2021.
3. Cruise Deals Will Be Few and Far Between
Cruise prices are heavily affected by the basic principle of supply and demand. Throughout the pandemic, cruise lines have shared that their demand has remained high despite the shutdown. In addition, the return to sailing will be gradual with just a few ships returning at first with limited capacity. These factors combined suggest that demand will remain strong, while supply is limited throughout 2021. Therefore, it’s predicted that prices will actually rise as cruises resume and there is a lower risk of more suspensions. So if you’ve been holding out for better deals before booking a cruise, you may want to re-think and start planning your vacation now. Current prices will most likely only go up as cruises start their return to service. Plus, most cruise lines are now offering programs where travelers can reschedule their reservations just a few days before travel without penalty.
If you’ve already booked a cruise, you’ll also want to consider planning your hotel arrangements in advance as well. As cruising approaches, you’ll be left with less options to choose from as demand for hotel rooms will also increase. Go Port offers packages that include everything you need ashore for your Port Canaveral cruise including hotel accommodations, cruise transfers, and airport transportation or cruise parking. They also offer flexible travel options similar to the cruise lines in case you need to reschedule your plans. By booking now, you’ll be able to choose from their best package inventory and lock in the lowest prices.
4. Technology Improvements Will Be Implemented on Board
One of the positive effects Covid-19 has had on the cruise industry is the technological improvements that have emerged. Cruise lines have been working diligently to develop new procedures to minimize large crowds and lines. While online check-in has been around for a while, we will now see it more widely used and become the norm. You’ll be able to check in online ahead of time and have your room keys waiting for you in your cabin instead of having to wait in line and check in with an agent before boarding. Royal Caribbean has even gone a step further and created a new muster drill, Muster 2.0, which allows guests to review their safety information via the Royal Caribbean App and stateroom TV. Then, guests just need to visit a designated check-in location to verify they’ve completed the process before the ship departs.
This new procedure eliminates the previous large group assembly and allows for physical distancing as guests complete the muster drill on their own time.
Among the numerous health and safety protocols the industry will be implementing to resume sailing again, cruise lines have also shared that they will be improving their air filtration systems. These new updates will minimize the potential for the virus to spread should a guest or crew member become infected on board. Norwegian Cruise Line has made a substantial investment in clean air by hiring AtmosAir Solutions to install air purification systems throughout their 28-ship fleet. AtmosAir is known for using bipolar ionization (BPI) in the air and on surfaces which is an all natural solution that attacks viruses and bacteria in the air rather than relying on filters. Royal Caribbean has also equipped its ships with MERV 13 air filters which can filter out coronavirus as well as cold and flu viruses in addition to a larger system that provides a continual intake of fresh air throughout the ship. With this new system, Royal claims that staterooms will have up to 12 air changes every hour and public spaces will have about 15 changes per hour. This will make the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces extremely low to virtually impossible.
5. Carnival Mardi Gras Will Be The Top Ship This Year
The Mardi Gras, Carnival’s newest and biggest ship yet, is sure to be the hit of 2021. Her long awaited inaugural sailing was originally scheduled in 2020, but due to the pandemic she will now debut in April of this year. Though the Mardi Gras’ name is a tribute to Carnival’s first ship, she’s nothing like the rest of her fleet. In fact, she’s 35% larger than any other Carnival ship. With a capacity of up to 6,500 passengers and weighing over 180,000 tons, the Mardi Gras also comes in as the 7th largest cruise ship ever built. Port Canaveral even constructed a new two-story terminal to welcome her arrival. Not only is the Mardi Gras grand in size, her 15 decks will also feature the first roller coaster at sea as well as Carnival’s largest waterpark, new celebrity chef restaurants, and more. She will also be recognized as the first North-American based cruise line to operate on liquified natural gas which is a more eco-friendly fuel alternative.
With everyone eager ro return to cruising in 2021, we have no doubt that the Carnival Mardi Gras will be the most popular ship of the year.
If you’re sailing on the Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral, Go Port offers easy-to-book packages that include everything you need ashore. Packages include hotel accommodations, cruise transfers, and airport transportation or cruise parking — all for one low price.
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