You may have noticed that cruise vacations are becoming popular again. Most ships are in port now but they are scheduled to sail in the near future. Great prices, spectacular ships and exciting destinations are just a few reasons to book a cruise.
Where to Go
Many people like taking cruises from NJ because of their convenience and attractive ports of call. You start with the stunning New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty. From there you may explore ports in Canada, Greenland and Iceland. Or go south to visit Charleston, South Carolina and Bermuda.
How Long to Travel
Novice cruisers may think that starting with a shorter cruise is best. Indeed, there are many 3- to 5-day cruise options. However, it can be difficult to fully experience the luxurious amenities of the ship on such a short trip. You will also be extremely limited in the ports of call when you stay so close to the point of departure. Many veteran cruisers recommend sailing for at least 10 days; two weeks is even better.
What Cruise Lines are Doing
According to the Cruise Lines International Association, member firms are increasingly responsive to cleanliness and safety concerns. Cruise lines are implementing extensive measures to ensure the health and safety of all aboard. Each ship agrees to:
- Undergo health inspections conducted by various agencies all over the world.
- Screen passengers and staff prior to boarding.
- Sanitize cabins and common areas thoroughly and keep them clean throughout the day.
- Train crewmembers in emergency procedures, public health practices and first aid.
- Employ medical professionals to offer testing and treatment in cabins. Cruise ships also include well-appointed medical facilities and updated equipment to provide the best care possible.
- Collaborate with internationally respected agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Crews follow guidelines regarding public health, reporting protocols and cleanliness standards.
- Reroute ships that are heading for a problematic port of call. If one or more of your planned destinations becomes ill-advised for any reason, your ship has the flexibility to sail to a different port.
What You Can Do
In addition to health and safety measures that cruise lines are taking, there are things you can do to keep yourself and your family well while cruising. Experts advise:
- Be sure you are current on vaccines. This includes routine vaccines, seasonal flu and any inoculations recommended for your ports of call. The cruise company may have additional requirements; check well ahead of time to be sure you are prepared.
- Plan ahead. Check health advisories and restrictions for cruise lines, point of departure and all ports of call.
- Use mosquito repellant. Bugs can be more than simply annoying; mosquitos are notorious for transmitting serious illnesses such as Zika.
- Practice proper hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when washing is not possible. Avoid touching your face, as germs tend to thrive on moist surfaces such as nose, mouth and eyes.
- Be aware of food and water cleanliness at your ports of call. You may want to stick to bottled water and other packaged drinks at local restaurants. Avoid ice. Eat raw produce only if you can wash it yourself. Tea and coffee are usually okay because the water is boiled first.
- If you are sick, do what you can to avoid spreading illness. Any signs of disease prior to departure should be taken seriously; stay home and reschedule your trip. If you become ill while at sea, stay in your room and consult onboard medical staff for further recommendations. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth completely and wash your hands before touching anything else.
As always, the success of your vacation begins and ends with you and your positive attitude. Put your mind at ease by purchasing travel insurance. Most importantly, be flexible. Realize that natural disasters, economic strife or health concerns may cause your cruise to be delayed or cancelled. If that happens, be willing to reschedule or reroute your vacation. Then relax and get ready to have fun.