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Taking the Kids: On a cruise this summer

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Are you ready? Are you ready to get on a cruise ship this summer?

There still won’t be cruises from the United States until at least November, according to the “no sail” order issued last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and despite calls from the industry to allow for a phased resumption of cruises this summer.

“Over the past eight months, a highly controlled resumption of cruising has continued in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific with nearly 400,000 passengers sailing to date in more than 10 major cruise markets. These voyages were successfully completed with industry-leading protocols that have effectively mitigated the spread of COVID-19. Additional sailings are planned in the Mediterranean and Caribbean later this spring and summer,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95 percent of the industry.

Cruising is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic, Craighead noted.

Major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, its sister company Celebrity Cruises, and Crystal Cruises, are circumventing the no-sail rule by starting and ending cruises in the Bahamas, St. Maarten and Bermuda, as well as Greece, where vaccinated Americans and those with a negative COVID test can enter the country without quarantining and where Celebrity’s newest ship, Apex, will make its world debut, complete with a kids and teens Camp at Sea program and family-oriented shore excursions. (How about a private sail to a remote beach in Mykonos?)

We have just updated our Family Cruise Guide, which we produce with our partners at Family Travel Forum, and will continue to update with the latest information.

 

Royal Caribbean has not yet announced what kids’ programs will be available, though there will be a day at the cruise line’s private Bahamian island CocoCay; Crystal has suspended kids’ programs as all passengers must be vaccinated and vaccines for those under 16 won’t be available until at least the fall, and for younger children, not even then, public health experts report.

Windstar Cruises, which plans to re-start operations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Tahiti this June, also has announced that proof of COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all guests, pre-embarkation testing (at no cost to guests) and off-ship excursions limited to those offered by Windstar.

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it will be sailing outside the U.S., sailing from Athens, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, starting in July. All passengers must show proof of vaccination.

“All measures, including testing, on board experiences and shore excursion protocols, will evolve along with public health standards, and will vary in accordance with the guidance provided by the destinations we are sailing to,” said Celebrity spokesman Susan Lomax. “Every month, things look different. That’s why we will communicate all of this information, specific to each sailing, at least 30 days prior to the sailing.”

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