Two cruise industry powerhouses announced the formation of a new joint effort to develop a response to coronavirus. Royal Caribbean Group (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara & Silversea) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (Norwegian, Oceania & Regent Seven Seas Cruises) announced the blue-ribbon task force will be headed by Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor, and Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
On June 3rd, the Silver Origin was added to ultra-luxury Silversea Cruise's fleet. This ship was purpose built to serve the 19 islands which make up the Galapagos Archipelago located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. This elegant 100-guest ship will cruise the Galapagos year-round.
Send in your new or renewal passport application NOW!
The U.S. passport office stopped regular operations in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Since that time, the office continues to accept applications, and it will cash your check immediately, but it just gets added to the backlog of millions of passport applications sitting and waiting to be processed.
If you need a new or renewed passport in the next 6 - 8 months, send in your application immediately. Otherwise you'll be further behind the thousands of applications already backed up.
I love cruising and have enjoyed it for over 25 years. I’ve walked through the awe inspiring ancient ruins of Pompeii. I’ve seen buildings and art I read about as a child in school. I’ve walked down paths that have been traveled for thousands of years. I’ve seen amazing landscapes, forests and gardens. I’ve come close to wild monkeys in a Buddhist temple and sloths slowly moving in Costa Rica. I’ve learned about the history and struggles of ancient civilizations. I’ve met friendly and helpful locals who helped me navigate streets in Venice, Zurich and Soul. And I’ve met incredible fellow cruise passengers each with a rich and interesting history.
I don’t want to lose these wonderful adventures cruise ships have given me. I have so much more I want to do and experience. So it is important that the cruise industry takes the right steps now to protect its passengers and the industry overall.
The Coronavirus is the big threat today, but another deadly virus will appear in the future. The cruise lines need to consider fundamental changes to deal with this and future pandemics.
So here are MY thoughts and recommendations on how to ensure the safety of passengers and the viability of the cruise industry:
Are luxury cruises all-inclusive?
What's included varies by cruise line
Ever wonder what the difference is between upscale luxury cruise lines? You aren't alone. Luxury cruises aren't all the same. Most aren't truly all-inclusive. In fact they are very different.
Regent Seven Seas offers the most all-inclusive fares, while you might be surprised to learn that Cunard offers the least. These different pricing strategies allow guest to choose the cruise line that most closely aligns with their tastes, preferences and budget. If you don't drink alcoholic beverages or take shore excursions maybe you'd choose a cheaper fare on a line that doesn't include them in it base cruise fare.
Across the board, we are seeing cruise bookings for 2021 up 9% - 15% over 2019 levels as people are anxious to escape home and live life again. Cruise lines are offering early booking savings on most cruises which further entices the home weary.
Contrary to several news articles, the U.S. Passport office is still accepting passport applications by mail. Late last month the Passport Office issued a statement which caused a lot of confusion.
You'll be denied boarding on a plane without it or a passport
Updated: March 27, 2020
The federal requirements to have a "Real ID" compliant drivers license in order to board a plane or enter a federal building that requires an ID has been pushed back to October 1, 2021. The implementation date was delayed one year in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. After October 1, 2021, anyone who doesn't have a "REAL ID" compliant drivers license will need a passport, military ID, or a federal government PIV card, otherwise they will be denied boarding.
Not surprisingly, I’ve been getting calls over the past few weeks about the coronavirus. It is an issue of concern that we should all take seriously, but not panic over. I am not a doctor and not giving medical advice. After reading many articles by health experts, the cruise line industry, and public health experts, here is my take on coronavirus:
Many travelers mistakenly believe once they have a valid passport they are good to travel the world. They aren't aware of a variety of foreign requirements and assume if there are any the airline, cruise line or a travel agent will notify them. All too many people learn the hard way that it is their responsibility to learn the rules.
Blog author. Former travel editor for Compete Magazine, awarded top 25 travel writing blog 2018 & 2019..