HOBE SOUND, Fla. — This most recent COVID-19 surge has the cruising industry back again in potentially rocky waters, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending against cruise ship travel regardless of vaccination status.
That has some local cruise planners doing their best to stay afloat.
At Cruise Planners in Hobe Sound, John Morgenthaler said things had been positively buoyant this year.
"Insanely busy here. It was probably… next year was already our best year," Morgenthaler said.
He'd traveled as far as Greece and Turkey since ships began taking passengers again last summer.
"Everybody was itching to get away," Morganthaler added. "They've been locked up for too long."
But last week, a personal trip to Antarctica was canceled at the last minute, and major lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian began paring back their schedules.
When the entire cruise industry initially shut down for COVID-19, Morgenthaler became a handyman to make ends meet.
The Hobe Sound Chamber recently recognized him for his ability to recover in the pandemic.
"As long as everything goes it looks like it's going, we should be good this year, I hope," Morgenthaler laughed.
While some of his clients are delaying their trips, Morgenthaler is telling all of his clients what life is like onboard right now.
"Different cruise lines have different mandates," he said. "Some you have to wear a mask all the time. Others you only have to wear when you're indoors."
While ship guidelines have changed, Morgenthaler believes the cruise lines have a much better handle on COVID-19.
"They didn't know what to do with everybody," he said. "They now know how to take somebody off the ship or keep them on the boat. There are plenty of open cabins for them to do that."
In a statement, the American Society of Travel Advisors added:
"Cruising is no more responsible for the spread of the omicron variant than travelers from southern Africa were at the outset of the current crisis."
Morgenthaler said he's hoping 2022 is a year for smooth sailing.