Updated: May 12, 2022
1) Plan on being quarantined. The ships are clean and do a great job of sanitizing, but that is not the problem. It's new passengers from all over the world who get on every week. Passengers will board with no symptoms and who do not feel sick but potentially will leave the next group of passengers' the virus the following week. Paying it forward is excellent except when it comes to Covid-19.
2) Make plans for family, pets, and co-workers. Potentially, your trip will extend 14 days after your cruise ends. You may be stranded at sea, or you may need to be quarantined when your cruise terminates. Having a plan will help ease the stress as communication may also be limited in a quarantined situation.
3) Verify the details of your Cruise cancellation policy. If you or any of your close contacts contract Covid, you would have to cancel. In addition to the cruise line, check with your airline about their cancellation/change policy. You do not want to find out the details of this on the day you are supposed to travel. This knowledge will help with pre-trip anxiety.
4) Purchase extra medical insurance. In many instances, health plans do not cover you while traveling. Some only reimburse these expenses. Even then, the insurance company may not agree with the cost or the treatment you received. Suppose your insurance carrier does cover medical costs while traveling. In that case, the medical provider you seek for help may not accept your coverage. Besides potentially paying thousands of dollars out in cash for medical treatments, you may need to be airlifted home either from the ship or from a foreign country. Travel insurance may cover these costly evacuations, but most likely, the medical coverage you currently have does not. Like any insurance policy, be sure to know what you are buying and what it covers.
5) Plan on the port you sail from not allowing the ship to return if an outbreak occurs. Every port city is fighting the virus and may not want to expose its citizens anymore by allowing a ship with the virus to dock. You may be traveling home from a different port than the one you embarked from. Although this possibility is unlikely, it did happen to passengers in 2020. Also, assume if there is an outbreak, the countries you planned on visiting may not allow the ship to dock in their port. If this happens, do not be upset with the crew or the cruise line as it is not their fault. Just enjoy another day out at sea.
6) Bring plenty of extra medication. If you are stranded at sea, you won't be able to refill your prescriptions. Ask your doctor to give you at least a 30 - 45 day supply to cover your cruising time + extended quarantine time if it happens. In addition to prescriptions, bring extra over-the-counter pain medication, seasick pills, and other potential medical supplies. The ship will not have enough reserves in its pharmacy to cover all passengers over an extended stay.
7) Book the largest balcony cabin you can afford. You don't want to be stranded in a small interior cabin for weeks on end waiting to be released. Ask the 100,000+ current staff members on ships who live in interior cabins, which are about the size of a walk-in closet, how that feels. Even a large passenger cabin will feel "Small" in a quarantine situation.
8) Plan on extending your vacation at least 2 more additional weeks if quarantined.
9) Bring credit cards with a high spending limit, return travel may become extremely expensive. Anyone getting off a ship that had the virus may not be allowed to fly home on commercial airliners. You may have to charter a private jet home, but you will at least get more than just stale peanuts. If that is out of your budget, you may have to rent a car to drive home. Either way, it's an unexpected expense you need to be aware of.
10) Don't look for sympathy being stranded from the Government. The first go-round, the US and Canadian government stepped in and helped their citizens return home because it was no fault of their own. Next time, there will not be empathy or willingness to assist those who knew the risks of cruise travel.
11) Be flexible. These are fluid times; changes are being made daily. Your cruise could be canceled at any time, even up to the day you are supposed to board.
12) Be kind and considerate. Everyone is dealing with this extra stress, fellow passengers, crew, and management are in the same boat. Someone trying to assist you may be more helpful if you are respectful and calm.
13) If you are over 60 years of age and especially if you have underlying health conditions, pause your cruise plans till 2023. Give the governments and the cruise lines a solid year to determine the best protocols and medical treatments.
If you do sail in 2022, most likely, your cruise will be fine. However, if it goes south, your vacation will be more comfortable and less stressful by planning for the worst.
Ben Franklin said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."
Hope these tips help,
Patrick T. Coughlin
President of The Yellow Emerald Mining Company & Author