The CDC recently extended the No Sail Order, which prevents cruise ships from operating in US waters, through October 31, 2020.
According to Travel Market Report, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) asked travel industry workers last week to email and call their representatives in hopes to lift the No Sail Order. ASTA even threatened to sue the federal government if they don't provide further relief to the travel industry in the next stimulus check.
Zane Kerby, ASTA's President and CEO, made a point to say cruises should be running if amusement parks, malls, hotels, and airports all open. However, the CDC disagreed, citing studies out of Europe that state cruise ships could amplify the spread.
As someone who has been working as a travel agent since the beginning of Coronavirus, I understand ASTA's desperation. Reschedules and cancellations have been one after the other. Most Americans are hesitant to book new trips due to the uncertainty of when the restrictions will lift and testing difficulties are going to end. Millions of travel industry workers have been laid off, leading to understaffed cruises, resorts, airlines, etc. Being understaffed means being forced to cut itineraries, flights, hours, ships, etc.
A survey done by ASTA found that 64% of travel agencies have laid off at least half of their staff.
What does that mean for me?
It means travel post-Covid will be much different. With arguably some of the highest demand we've ever seen and low availability/accessibility, prices are going to skyrocket. Regional airports are going to struggle to stay open and we're going to see more flights with 2+ connections. To make a long story short, we're going to have fewer options and we'll be paying more for what we're able to get.
While I understand why the cruise lines want to get back to cruising (*ahem*: they need to in order to stay in business), I don't think we should ignore the issues we ran into at the beginning of the pandemic. Transmission rates on cruise ships were through the roof, and some ships had to spend weeks floating offshore because no one wanted to accept Covid positive travelers into their port (...understandably).
Not only do we need to know what the cruise lines plans are for preventing Covid, but also: what happens when a passenger makes it on the boat with it? We've seen it happen, so we know it's possible. So what's the plan? I have yet to see one that is effective in protecting cruisers from all angles, so I have a feeling we'll be waiting into 2021 for cruises to come back.
About the Author:
I'm Anna Mills - a travel agent, blogger, and author of the book "100 Ways to Make Travel More Affordable". I have been a guest on the Trip Sister's Podcast and TripScout's Roadtrip Expert Panel. You may have seen me in Texas Lifestyle Magazine, Opploans.com, or as a Rising Star for Travel Market Report.