June 18, 2024

Travel’s Comeback Kid

Friendly and professional service is a welcome feature of shipboard dining.

Cruise ships have always been the gold standard for cleanliness, so it was ironic they should gain such negative prominence at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cruise industry has faced public health challenges in the past, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003. However, past infectious outbreaks pale in comparison to the current global crisis.

The response from the cruise lines has been thorough and science driven as they strive to make their ships as safe as possible. Working closely with the Center for Disease Control, the major cruise companies have upgraded their ships’ ventilation and air filtration systems, and introduced an array of new health and safety measures. These include robust testing and tracking of cases, vaccinating all crewmembers, and the pre-boarding screening of all passengers.

Another welcome development, designed to lessen congestion and accommodate physical distancing at the cruise terminals, is the assigning of staggered boarding times. Once on board, guests are encouraged to practice frequent hand washing and make use of hand sanitizers installed throughout the public areas. All areas of the ship, including staterooms, are regularly cleaned with disinfectants proven to kill the coronavirus.


Ship waiters mug with young passenger.

The ship’s medical center, staffed with doctors and nurses, is equipped with COVID-19 tests and treatments. No other segment of the travel industry is required to conduct the same level of testing and tracking of cases as do the cruise lines. And because this detailed information is diligently reported to the CDC and other public health administrations, the cruise industry is an easy target for media covering the pandemic.

Negative publicity aside, shipboard life offers us the human contact that is so often missing in our land-locked lives. The level of personal service provided by your stateroom steward, whom you promptly know by name, is what makes guests feel very much at home – but a home that is free of chores.

The biggest decision to be made during a day at sea on a cruise ship is whether to have dinner in the main dining room or book a table at one of the specialty restaurants. It’s nice to have options, but I still like traditional seating. I enjoy being served by the same dining room stewards each evening. To be greeted by name and a warm smile, and to learn a bit about the personal lives of the people serving you dinner, is just one of cruising’s many pleasures.

I also enjoy the spontaneity of shipboard life, such as taking an after-dinner stroll around the ship, pausing at various lounges to enjoy some live music or perhaps heading to the show lounge to take in whatever extravaganza is being staged that night.

It’s the congenial atmosphere found on a cruise ship that’s hard to replicate on land and is what many people have missed. Fortunately, cruising is staging a comeback. And like many a comeback act, the post-pandemic experience of traveling by cruise ship may be even better than ever.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.