Cruise Travel: 8 Things to Look Forward to in 2021
Posted on February 4, 2021
With cruises on pause for the past year, we’re ready for some fun in the sun this 2021. The pandemic has left travelers overdue for a vacation filled with sunshine, sandy beaches, and fresh ocean air. Brighter days are on the horizon as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are currently being distributed throughout the country. We’re getting closer to the end of suspended cruises as the vaccines are estimated to be readily available to the public just in time for Summer. Even though this virus has flipped the industry upside down, there are some positive changes to anticipate when cruises finally return. We’ve put together the top 8 things to look forward to when cruising in 2021.
1. New Ships
While the pandemic has forced some older ships into retirement, this just means newer ships are on the horizon as the industry bounces back. One of the most anticipated new ships that will be debuting this year is the Carnival Mardi Gras. Port Canaveral even constructed a two-story terminal to welcome her arrival. She’s Carnival’s biggest and best ship yet with a capacity of up to 6,500 passengers and weighs over 180,000 tons. Not only is the Mardi Gras 35% larger than any other Carnival ship, she’s also the 9th largest cruise ship ever built in the world. Her 15 decks will house the first roller coaster at sea, Carnival’s largest water park, new celebrity chef restaurants, and more. The Carnival Mardi Gras is sure to make a big splash in the cruise industry this 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.
2. Fresher Air
Aside from getting fresh air out on the open seas, you can also look forward to cleaner air being circulated throughout your ship. Cruise lines have been taking extreme measures to upgrade their air filtration systems in an effort to mitigate the spread of coronavirus through ventilation. Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that they will be installing new air-purification systems across its 28-ship fleet through AtmosAir. Rather than relying on filters, AtmosAir is known for using bipolar ionization (BPI) which is an all natural solution that attacks viruses and bacteria in the air. Royal Caribbean has also implemented a new air filtration system that will make the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces extremely low to virtually impossible with up to 12 air changes every hour in staterooms and about 15 per hour in public spaces. This new system also includes MERV 13 air filters which can filter out coronavirus as well as cold and flu viruses. With all these new upgrades, the potential for a virus to spread onboard is greatly minimized should anyone on the ship become ill.
3. Spotless Ships
When cruises return from their pause in service, ships will be cleaner than ever. Cruise lines have been working with the CDC to ensure vessels are properly cleaned and disinfected prior to every voyage. You can expect more frequent and thorough disinfecting of all high-traffic public areas as well as staterooms and elevators. Guests will also be encouraged to wash their hands before entering dining venues and hand sanitizing stations will be prominently placed throughout the ship. In addition, cruise lines may even extend the turnaround time between sailing to ensure deeper sanitation. With all these enhanced cleaning protocols, the risk of getting sick on a ship, even from just the common cold, will be greatly diminished. While some of these enhanced cleaning protocols may relax over time, 2021 will definitely be the year of spotless ships.
4. More Dining Service
Like the majority of restaurants nowadays, QR codes will replace physical menus and tables will be spread apart to accommodate social distancing. However, we’ll see a lot more changes when it comes to cruise line dining. Long gone are the days of the self-service buffet. Helping yourself will be traded in for either crew plating at stations or full waiter service. We’ll also most likely see convenient grab and go options available as well as a move towards pre-booking dining slots. In addition, tables may be limited to fewer guests or just allow for families and travel companions to be seated together. Technology is also being developed to enable guests to order food and drinks via cruise line apps and have them delivered to locations away from other passengers. With all these changes to the way dining will work on a cruise ship, we can expect less crowded venues and more crew to assist with service resulting in an overall better experience.
5. Less Lines and Crowds
Due to social distancing practices brought about by Covid-19, cruise lines have placed an emphasis on reducing long lines and crowds both onboard and at the terminal. While online check-in has existed for a while, it is now becoming more widely used. We’ll start seeing facial recognition and passport scanning being implemented as well to speed up the process and limit human interaction. Checking in without an agent allows you to skip the long lines at the terminal and simply grab your room keys onboard in your cabin. Royal Caribbean has also created a new muster drill, Muster 2.0, that eliminates the previous large group assembly and allows for physical distancing as cruisers complete the muster drill on their own time. With this new procedure, guests can review their safety information via the Royal Caribbean App and stateroom TV. Then, before the ship departs, they just need to visit a designated check-in location to verify they’ve completed the process. In addition, the first ships to depart when cruises resume will be sailing with limited capacity to minimize large crowds. These changes may have been a result of coronavirus, but they will ultimately improve the cruising experience. Afterall, no one enjoys waiting in line or getting caught in a busy crowd on vacation.
6. Touch-Free Systems
While cruise lines have long been investing in touchless technology to enhance the cruising experience, it is now becoming an essential part of travel. A majority of new hands-free advancements have been achieved through app development. Most cruise lines already have apps that allow cruisers to plan activities and access daily information on their smart devices, reducing the need for passengers to touch documentation. However, these apps are being further developed to include capabilities such as ordering and paying for food and drinks, booking shore excursions, making reservations for restaurants and entertainment, and even acting as a keycard to open your cabin. Not only will all of these new touch-free systems play a key role in keeping people healthy on a cruise ship, they’ll also make your travel experience more convenient and seamless.
7. Flexible Cancellation Policies
Another perk to cruise travel in 2021 is the flexible cancellation options available. Due to the fluidity of the current environment, most cruise lines are offering policies that allow travelers to reschedule their plans as needed. While each company has their own guidelines, most regulations are fairly flexible compared to previous policies. Some cruisers have even received a 125% future cruise credit to make up for suspended sailings. Throughout the pandemic, cruise lines have definitely made a big effort to ensure their customers feel more confident in booking decisions. Other travel companies like Go Port, known for their Port Canaveral cruise hotel, transportation, and parking packages, have also followed suit with similar policies allowing cruisers to change their reservations up to 4 days before their first travel date. Whether it’s due to a cancelled cruise or simply the need to reschedule, your package value is protected by their Future Package Credit Program. With all these flexible options in place for 2021, you can start planning your dreaming vacation with peace of mind.
8. Enhanced Medical Facilities
If anyone does get sick on your sailing, cruise lines will be more prepared than ever to handle an outbreak. Medical personnel are receiving training in the latest clinical care practices to manage Covid-19 and onboard medical centers will be equipped with the latest medical supplies and testing kits. There will also be new dedicated controlled care centers where potentially infected guests and crew can be nursed away from other patients. Most cruise lines have even claimed they will be expanding their medical teams. Telehealth methods are being introduced as well where guests can receive medical attention right from their stateroom virtually without the need for sitting in a waiting room. In addition, some cruise lines have introduced wristbands that provide contact and proximity tracing. These wristbands make it possible for cruise lines to quickly isolate anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. In the event anyone falls ill on your voyage, rest assured the cruise lines are prepared to treat the virus and prevent the spread.
Sailing from Port Canaveral in 2021? After booking your cruise, let Go Port make your trip seamless from start to finish. We’ll take care of everything you need ashore from hotel accommodations to transportation and cruise parking so you can make the most of your much-needed vacation.
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