Some cruise lines are preparing their ships and crews for a return to normal, but that doesn’t mean cruising will be exactly the same when we get back on board. While cruise lines are taking countless precautions to keep their passengers safe, it’s important to take some personal responsibility to do your part as well. There’s no cure-all to prevent the spread of disease, but there are a few things the Centers for Disease Control have outlined which can help keep people safe.
You’ve been hearing about some of these for a while now, but that’s because they work! There are also a few changes being made to the way we travel that cruisers should take advantage of to help keep COVID-19 off ships. Here are 5 ways to sail safely once you get back on board a cruise ship!
You’ve been hearing about it for months now, but that’s because it works. When staying home isn’t a possibility, keeping at least six feet away from the nearest person has been echoed by health professionals and policy-makers at every level of government. Social distancing may not be very much fun, but limiting face to face interactions in any kind of setting is THE BEST WAY to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The problem is that cruises are largely social. It’s fun to mingle with your fellow travelers over a cocktail or while cooling off in the pool, but if cruising is to come back sooner rather than later, it’s a necessary step for cruise line passengers to take.
Many cruise lines have already released plans to limit the passenger count on board when cruising returns again so that will make social distancing easier, but it’s still important for cruisers to take responsibility for their own space and the space of others.
Wear a Mask
We asked Porthole Cruise Magazine readers earlier this year if they would be willing to wear a mask when on a cruise and the responses were mixed. Some reported that due to underlying health conditions, they’ve been wearing masks on cruises for years. Others were open to the idea, though reluctantly. Others still balked at the idea and said they wouldn’t be taking a cruise if there was a mandatory mask policy.
Mandatory policy or not, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to prevent infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control: COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Wearing a medical mask or any kind of cloth face covering when social distancing is not possible not only helps you out, but everyone else, too.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
According to the Centers for Disease Control: Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
This is a pretty obvious step for most of us who have long understood the importance of keeping our hands clean not just during a pandemic, but any other time as well. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (hot or cold) is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness. If you want to make counting to 20 a little more fun, sing the Happy Birthday song at a normal pace instead!
Don’t just give them a rinse. According to the CDC: Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed.
Cruise lines have long understood the importance of keeping hands clean. They were one of the first industries to feature hand sanitizing machines all over their ships and terminals. It took hotels, airports, malls and more years to develop the same kind of sanitary practices cruise lines have practiced for decades. Take advantage of the on-board hand sanitizer units whenever you can.
Pick Your Shore Excursions Carefully
Shore excursions are a big part of any cruise vacation. Part of the fun of cruising is that you get to visit lots of different places and experience new things all on the same vacation. Taking into account all the above tips for safety on board the ship, it makes sense that the same logic applies to a shore excursion.
Try to choose excursions that get you away from the crowds so social distancing is easier. Prior to COVID-19, it was common for shore excursions to bring large groups by bus to certain sights or activities. That may not be feasible anymore, particularly since there isn’t a single pandemic recovery plan that’s uniform across all cruise destinations. If an excursion has a lot of people signed up, it might be smarter to choose a different one or enjoy staying on the ship with a smaller crowd.
Take Advantage of New Travel Rules
There are some new procedures when it comes to travel, particularly by airplane, that travelers can use to their advantage. The Transportation Security Administration recently amended their policy regarding hand sanitizer to allow bottles up to 12oz in size to be in a traveler’s carry on luggage. Previously, no liquids over 3.4 oz were allowed to be brought on the plane by carry on.
TSA is also allowing travelers to scan their own boarding pass, both digitally and paper, when boarding the plane. Always scan it yourself, if given the option. Make sure you double check your luggage prior to leaving for the airport to ensure there are no prohibited items. That leaves a lesser chance you or your luggage will be subjected to further screening by TSA.
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