One of the biggest questions in the industry as of late has been what the trial cruises will look like in the coming months. As per the new Conditional Sailing Order from the CDC, cruise lines will need to complete 15 separate successful trial cruises in order to be deemed safe to sail. These trial cruises will be a chance for companies to show off their new safety protocols in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But what exactly can someone signing up for a trial cruise expect? Here’s what the experience will likely be like based on information and speculation from a number of people in the cruise industry.
Not your typical cruises
As you might have guessed, the trial cruises that cruise lines plan to run will be a good deal different than the normal cruises that you are accustomed to. To start, cruises will be much shorter than average, lasting only a few days. Port stops will also be very limited and will largely just be brief visits to private islands so as to cut down on the possible spread to port communities. Ships will also not be running at full capacity. This is a total no-brainer, as that is likely how cruises will be functioning even once the trial cruise period is over. Most ships plan to sail with about half of their total capacity, allowing ample room for social distancing.
Companies won’t be profiting
It’s already been reported that these trials are going to require civilian volunteers in order to properly test health protocol. This means that willing participants will be able to catch a cruise for free. But what about on board amenities that typically cost money? Will these volunteers be paying for their own food and drinks on board? It has apparently been determined that cruise lines cannot profit from these trial cruises, meaning that they won’t be taking the volunteers’ money. This is leaving many to think that all restaurant and bar experiences (where applicable) will be offered for free.
How will eating work?
Speaking of eating, how will that work? Buffets and other shared restaurant spaces that don’t allow for convenient mask use have been targeted as potential areas where COVID-19 spread is possible on ships. In terms of buffets, guests can expect the experience to be very different. Self-serve will no longer be an option. Buffets will either have staff serving food to guests or just feature pre-made dishes. Restaurants will also be changed, with stricter cleaning measures and further spaced out tables.
It seems clear that these trial cruises will be very different from normal, and that’s a good thing. If you’re someone who is interested in volunteering to take part in a trial cruise, stay tuned. Cruise lines will likely be offering more details on their trials in the near future.