Is cruising safe? Your top five cruising questions answered

22 January 2024
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After being confined to our homes for weeks on end, no doubt you’re itching to escape. If you’re dreaming of endless horizons, salty sea breezes and the freedom to explore, chances are your wanderlust is peaking. And we have just the ticket – a cruise holiday on the high seas!

If you’re wondering if you can book a cruise now, are intrigued by cruising or are counting down the days until you can set sail once again – or have valid questions around the safety of cruising, we’ve rounded up our cruising specialists to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Is cruising safe?

Cruising has borne the brunt of negative publicity of late. In fact, the cruise industry is one of the most regulated industries in terms of health and safety. Also, due to the controlled environment onboard, cruise lines can manage their stringent health and safety protocols in a way that few other industries may be able to do.

The cruise industry has stepped up its game further, developing additional science-backed protocols for a safe and healthy return to cruising.

In an industry first, two mega cruise leaders, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and Royal Caribbean Group, have joined hands to form a “Healthy Sail Panel,” a collaboration to develop enhanced cruise health and safety standards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is cruising safe? Your top five cruising questions answered

This panel of experts is tasked with developing recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response, improve safety, and get “healthy sail ready” for the protection of crew and passengers.

“While the cruise industry has always had rigorous health standards, the unique challenges posed by COVID-19 provide an opportunity to raise the bar even higher,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

NCL has implemented their sail safe program, a host of new and enhanced health and safety protocols, on their vessels, including:

  • All-new air filtration
  • Enhanced screening protocols
  • Increased sanitation measures
  • Responsible social distancing
  • Enhanced medical resources
  • Extended ship to shore safety.

Read more in-depth on the NCL website here.

Why plan and book a cruise now?

Perhaps from boredom, frustration or pure wanderlust, the demand for cruising is increasing, meaning that seasoned cruisers as well as South Africans looking for a value for money, hassle-free holiday are looking to take to the seas.

Cruise lines have come to the party offering incredible deals – as well as new policies and terms and conditions for added peace-of-mind. Make sure to capitalise on deals and special offers by booking early.

Is cruising safe? Your top five cruising questions answered

Where should I go?

It’s entirely up to you! Most cruise lines have indicated that they will begin with a phased reintroduction of their fleet, slowly building up to full cruising capacity.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended their suspension of cruises departing from US waters until 30 September 2020 while in Norway, some cruise lines such as Hurtigruten have begun to sail.

Western Mediterranean and Baltic cruises are bestsellers in the South African market. This cruise season begins in the European summer, so now is the ideal time to book your summer cruise for May 2024 onwards. Sun-splashed Caribbean cruises begin cruising from December to April each year, so let’s cross our fingers that you’ll be able to hop on board!

If you’d like to embrace a local is lekker cruise, Norwegian Jade will make Norwegian Cruise Line history as the first ship in their fleet to offer roundtrip cruises from Cape Town. Norwegian Jade is set to make her South African debut from December 2021 through January 2022. This 12-day Extraordinary Journey sailing, including visits to Lüderitz, Walvis Bay and Durban, and will feature overnight calls in Cape Town and Richard’s Bay along South Africa’s stunning coastline – truly one for the bucket list.

What happens if I need to change my cruise booking?

Rest assured, you can book now with confidence – and change later if need be.

NCL’s peace-of-mind policy is the perfect reason to plan and book a cruise now, offering:

  • The chance to cancel Up to 48 hours Prior to departure. Currently for all cruises booked until December 31, 2020, customers can cancel up to 48 hours before their holiday start date andreceive a Future Cruise Credit, or a refund if cancelling outside of 120 days.
  • 100% Future Cruise Credit – use your 100% Future Cruise Credit for sailings through December 2022.
  • Book Risk-Free – For all cruises January 1, 2021, and beyond, you can cancel up to 4 months before your sailing and receive a full refund under the regular cancellation policy.

Is cruising safe? Your top five cruising questions answered

Why should I choose a cruise?

Apart from the fact that they represent incredible value for money, visit a host of destinations in just one go, and offer an unusual array of cuisine, entertainment and experiences onboard your floating hotel?

NCL’s freestyle cruising concept is a hit with relaxed and fun-loving South Africans. Guests can choose from an array of dining options, an overwhelming array of experiences on board (from the world’s first onboard racing track to a wine tasting session or circus school for the little ones), solo-traveller staterooms and no fixed dinner times, seating orders or dress codes. Read more about freestyle cruising with Norwegian Cruise line.

So, if you’re dreaming of sailing off into the sunset, now is the time to make that dream come true.

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