Santorini Windmills

Is It Time To Book Yet?

Like most of us, this question is probably weighing heavily on your mind right now. Several destinations are opening up – Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas. Resorts are posting their enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols, flights are adding itineraries and throwing in flexible rebooking policies, and the cruise industry is poised to spring into action as soon as the CDC gives them the go (which the industry and Washington are currently negotiating). You’d be forgiven for thinking the time is right to finally take that postponed 2020 family vacation.

So should you? Ultimately, the decision is one you will have to make after careful deliberation (and preferably consultation with your doctor). The answer is not a simple one. Many factors are at play here. First and foremost is your own safety. Are you in a high risk group for developing severe complications if you catch the virus? Your loved ones must also be considered. Even if you are not at high risk, is someone close to? Are you likely to spread it to him/her?

After the health consideration of you and your family, you must consider the community implications of your travel. Are you from a community that is experiencing a rise in cases? Will your employer or state require a quarantine if you do travel? Are you traveling to an area that is experiencing a spike in cases?

Even if the stars all seem to align in your favor, remember that you will be passing through multiple possible infection sources. You may be entering a cab or Uber. You will pass through airports. You may take a shared transfer to your hotel. You will need to eat in restaurants. You will want to visit attractions (if they are even open). Each one of these represents a point where multiple people, from multiple destinations, with varying levels of infection are coming into contact with facilities you will be contacting as well. That presents risk, despite the best intended safety protocols. Safety is not guaranteed. It is a buyer beware market in the travel industry right now.

In the end, the decision is yours. As your dedicated travel advisor, our goal is to arm you with information to make an informed decision. We hope you will make it rationally and not put yourself or others at risk. When the time is right, we are here guide you through the process of understanding what tests are needed, what protocols are in place, and what recourse you have in the event of a worst case scenario. That is the value of planning your vacation with a trusted professional.

CLIA Proposes Health & Safety Protocols for COVID-Cruising…

Recently, the regulatory body for the global cruise lines proposed a plan to the CDC to resume sailing. The plan is to start cruising again under a phased and highly controlled approach. These recommendations are not final or otherwise approved, but they should, nonetheless, give you an idea of what to expect when cruising in the near future. Of course, we will post updates and revisions as they are released.

Proposed protocls include:

-Tesing 100% of passengers and crew before embarkation.

-Mandatory masks for passengers and crew both onboard and during excursions, whenever physical distancing is not possible.

-Maintaining physcial distancing in terminals, onboard ships and on private islands.

-Improved ventilation to increase fresh air onboard ships and implementing enhanced filtration to mitigate risk.

-Ship-specific response plans.

-Dedicated isolation cabins.

-Arrangements with shoreside facilities for quarantining and medical treatment.

-Passengers only allowed to leave ship while on a cruise-line excursion and while abiding by excursions’ protocols with strict enforcement for noncompliance, including denial of re-boarding.

Blue dome

Are We Ready To Travel Yet?

Being a travel advisor means staying on top of all the current travel trends and news. As you can imagine, staying on top of the current events in this COVID-19 era is an extra challenge. Things are changing daily (if not more frequently). I was reading this article about losing the buffet on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ ships from one of my favorite trade rags and it got me to thinking. Am I ready for this?

My family and I love to cruise. We love to travel in general for that matter, and we’re equally comfortable with what we call “no-brainer” vacations like cruises and theme parks as we are with more immersive vacations – you know, “real” travel. The kind where you meet the locals and things don’t always go as planned, if there even is a plan. Like many of you, we had our much-anticipated travel plans for 2020 cancelled due to the virus. That’s why early on in the lock-down we said that when things open up, we’d be the first to book a trip, both to cure our cabin fever and to prove to our clients that it is now safe to move about the world.

Well, things are opening up. Cruise lines are releasing their plans to sail (most of them toward the end of the summer). Disney is implementing rolling openings at its theme parks. Other parks are making similar plans. Resorts are getting the word out about their enhanced cleaning protocols and revised amenities. However, we still have not booked our first post-COVID trip yet.

We talked about this the other night and we just don’t feel it’s time. Partly because we are not convinced there is an adequate response plan in place if this all backfires, the number of cases increases, and the hospitals become overwhelmed. Partly because we don’t feel there is an effective treatment or prevention in place yet. We feel relatively confident we may survive, but we have a 6 year old and now they are finding potentially-lethal COVID-related infection that is affecting children under 8. We also realize we live in Florida where we are predominantly surrounded by residents in high-risk age groups. We don’t infect them.

Still, we think more than anything, we just aren’t thrilled about the idea of a vacation in which we have to wear face masks. We love food and a cruise without a buffet doesn’t sound the same to us. How can you explore a new place when the stores and museums are shuttered and the people are self-isolating? And flying… I don’t think so.

We predict the Great Outdoors will be the hot destination this summer.

Looks like, if we do travel this summer, we’ll be getting back to basics. It’ll be time for the old family road trip, piled into a minivan. Since we are avoiding people like the plague (pun intended), it will be some quality time in the great outdoors too. I’m putting my money on rental car agencies, campgrounds and state/national parks for the foreseeable future. But hey, that’s just us. Are you ready to hit the skies/sea/road yet?