LOS ANGELES — The cruise industry suffered its biggest financial blow in decades when the COVID-19 pandemic halted most sailings for months and made nervous cruise fans think twice about booking an ocean voyage.
But cruising is back and all signs point to a turn of the tide for the industry: More cruises are scheduled to depart the Port of Los Angeles next year than in 2019.
Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company, reported that bookings for the second half of 2022 already surpassed bookings for 2019. Royal Caribbean cruises for 2022 are nearly at 2019 levels, the company’s chief financial officer, Jason Liberty, said on a recent earnings calls.
Despite the shutdown, the world’s cruise lines have more than 100 new ships on order to set sail by 2027. The Majestic Princess, a ship designed to serve the Chinese market, made its maiden call from the Port of L.A. on Oct. 6. Some 200 cruises are scheduled to depart from there in 2022, up from 120 in 2019.
What are cruise lines requiring of passengers? How have boarding, dining and other activities on board changed? We gathered some information to answer common questions.
Q. Do I have to be vaccinated to go on a cruise?
Q. Do I have to wear a mask at all times on the ship?
A. Passengers are strongly encouraged to wear masks in public spaces and are required to do so in such indoor areas as elevators, stores, casinos and dining halls, except when eating or drinking. You typically won’t be required to wear masks around the pool and hot tubs, but deck chairs are spaced farther apart than in the past to maintain physical distance.
Q. What about shore visits and excursions?
A. To go onshore, you must meet the health protocols of the country the ships visits. The government of the Bahamas, for example, recently announced that all cruise visitors must be fully vaccinated, with the exception of travelers under age 12 and those with medical exemptions.
On some ships, such as Carnival Cruises, unvaccinated passengers are not allowed to go onshore except with a pre-booked “bubble tour.” On other cruise lines, such as Holland America, shore excursions managed by the ship are strongly encouraged.
Q. Are ships sailing at full capacity?
Q. Have any activities been eliminated because of COVID-19?
A. You won’t be lining up at the buffet for meals. Most self-serve buffets have been modified so that employees serve passengers to avoid unnecessary crowding. Indoor dancing, karaoke and nightclubs are no longer allowed on many ships, including the Majestic Princess, which converted its karaoke area into extra room for spa treatments. On some ships, passengers won’t be allowed to try on clothing for sale. Physical distancing is encouraged for all activities.
Q. Will I need to make reservations for dining and other onboard activities?
A. To manage capacity and physical distancing, many onboard restaurants recommend reservations and will limit groups at dining tables to eight. On Princess Cruises, reservations can be made through the MedallionClass app. On Celebrity Cruises, reservations can be made on the Celebrity Cruises App.
Q. What else do I need to know?