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What to know about COVID-19 requirements for your next cruise

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(WGHP) — Dreaming of your next vacation? 

You might want to consider a cruise.

Winter is a popular time for travelers to set sail on the high seas.  

Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel at AAA, says cruise lines are prioritizing safety as things get back to normal. “Cruises are 100% staffed but they are sailing with less than 100% of the passengers so the people who are going are having wonderful experiences,” Haas said.

The CDC still lists going on a cruise in the level 3 – or “high” category of risk for the spread of COVID-19 — because of the close quarters on board.

Cruise lines follow what’s called the Conditional Sailing Order.

The Conditional Sailing Order is a framework of requirements from the CDC that cruise lines have to follow in order to sail. The CDC announced October 25 it expects to make the guidance voluntary after January 15.

Haas says that’s proof cruise lines have gone above and beyond for their customers.

Some of those measures include adding enhanced filtration systems to the ship, enhancing cleaning protocols, and having an abundance of hand sanitizer on board. Travelers are required to wear masks indoors in all public areas. Changes will also likely affect check-in and meals.

“For things like your check-in or even for your safety videos you no longer will have to gather in big groups on an ocean cruise to have what they call the muster drill. You’ll just have to watch a safety video either in your cabin on the television or online on your phone,” Haas said. “You won’t find any more self-serve buffets typically. Instead, if there is a buffet, the staff will serve you.”

Many cruise lines also require passengers to be fully vaccinated and to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken one to three days before boarding.

When it comes to sailing with children who are not eligible to be vaccinated, Haas says families should consult with their doctor to see if cruising is right for their personal situation. She also recommends talking to a travel advisor for help making sense of specific requirements.

When it comes to preparing for the unexpected, she says cruise lines have worked to make their cancellation policies as flexible as possible, and you might not have to make your final payment until right before you travel.

Still, protecting your investment can be a smart way to start a trip.

“Travel insurance is another great way to make sure that if anything happens before you need to leave that you are covered for many of the common things that might interfere. Should you happen to get COVID before or during your trip you can have coverages there. And if anything comes up related to your air travel like cancellations or lost baggage or even delays of as little as 3 hours, there are financial benefits for that.” Haas said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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