WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more readily available and more people are feeling confident about getting back to doing the things they used to do, one industry that has continued to remain on hold throughout the coronavirus pandemic is cruise travel.
The cruise lines, many of which are based in Florida, are still waiting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give them the green light to set sail again.
So when will that happen? Michelle Fee, founder and CEO of Coral Springs-based Cruise Planners, said she's hopeful that could come any day.
"All other modes of transportation are, you know, back in business," she said. "I do feel like, and this is just my humble opinion, that the cruise industry has been unfairly focused on and we are truly hoping that any day now they come through and start giving the cruise lines directions on the protocols that need to be completed before they can get back in the water."
Crystal Cruises isn't waiting and recently announced it will start sailing again in July, although all passengers must provide proof of being vaccinated in order to travel.
Stephanie Donner enjoys going on cruises. The Boca Raton resident has gone on more than 50 cruises and misses it. She said she can't wait to set sail again.
"To me, it's seeing friends as well, and I really miss that point," she said. "Like, I didn't have my birthday this year on the ship, or last year. I stayed home."
Fee said the aim of the cruise lines is to create a safe experience for passengers.
"First and foremost, all the crew members, from what we hear, will be vaccinated," she said. "So that's a good thing, because that will immediately, you know, help with herd immunity."
Fee offered some advice to those who may be considering cruising again in 2021.
Book now, she said, and through a travel agent.
"They will help guide you," Fee said.
She also recommended that anyone considering a cruise get vaccinated.
"It's your golden ticket to travel," Fee said.
Last but not least, Fee said, is to "revenge travel."
"Buy that vacation that you've had on your bucket list for years, because you haven't been going anywhere but your backyard for the past year-and-a-half," she said.
But Donner said she will not go on any trips until the CDC releases its guidelines.
"I'm not booking anything," Donner said. "I am waiting."