When will it be safe to cruise again? These signs that will help you decide when to sail

It’s been a hard year for cruise passengers. Last March, the cruise industry all but shut down and remained beached for the rest of 2020. Now, passengers are eager to know when it will be safe to cruise again.

In November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which defined the requirements for resuming operations in U.S. ports. Most major cruise lines won’t start their schedules until late spring.

But when will it be safe for you to cruise? That’s a difficult question to answer, and it depends on your health and how much of a risk you’re willing to take, according to experts. 

Cruising could resume soon, but industry watchers say most people won’t feel completely safe on a cruise ship until later this year. Cruise lines are going to extraordinary lengths to keep their vessels coronavirus-free. So how do you know if cruising is safe? Look for a green light from the CDC – and lots of extra safety precautions. 

What will it take to start cruising again?

To resume sailing, the government has set strict standards for cruise lines.

“The lines have to be able to successfully, quickly and cheaply screen passengers before they board,” says Andrew Coggins, a professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. Cruise lines must also have CDC-approved procedures and facilities to identify, isolate and treat any cases that may get through the screening.

Coggins expects some cruise ships to meet those standards in the first half of the year, but most passengers won’t feel safe planning a cruise until the CDC procedures are proven effective.

“The next couple of months will give an indication of whether the industry can return to operations this summer or fall,” he says.

If you’re interested in booking a cruise for late 2021, there’s no need to wait, says Tanner Callais, editor of the cruise site Cruzely.com. 

“The good news through this pandemic is that passengers haven’t been out any money, despite the turmoil,” he says. Cruise lines have either refunded passengers or offered a generous credit. 

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