Cruising has been one of the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The last year has been a tough one for cruise operators, but as the vaccines arrive and the world starts to open up again, plenty of people are impatient to get back on board ship and begin travelling the world once more.

In a post-COVID world, cruises are likely to look somewhat different. As they move towards a restart in a ‘new normal’ world, the cruise industry has implemented a bunch of changes to make cruising a safe, secure, and enjoyable environment once more.

So how are things likely to look for cruises this and next year? What are the best cruising tips for a post-COVID voyage? What are the main trends going to be in cruising over the next few years? Read on and get the low down on post-pandemic cruising.

Shorter cruises

Current CDC rules cap cruises at seven days. But this is likely to remain a trend even once the restrictions have been lifted. Shorter cruises are likely to become the norm or increase in popularity, as passengers look to get the cruise experience without the potential risk that comes with more shore excursions.

Medical requirements

For the foreseeable future, boarding the ship is going to come with a number of requirements. Temperature checks are already commonplace, while some lines plan to implement rapid tests to ensure all passengers’ health. Some level of increased social distancing is likely, with a few ships planning to require masks when space means that this is impossible. There is even talk of requiring crew and passengers to be fully vaccinated before setting sail.

Better ventilation

New health protocols emphasize the importance of ventilation, and cruise lines are taking this extremely seriously. Enhanced air management and ventilation strategies will be implemented wherever feasible, and more activities will be planned in the open air. Some lines are even planning to install HEPA air filters on their fleet to ensure the cleanest air possible in closed spaces on board.

Dining and entertainment

Sadly, COVID probably means the end of the buffet as we know it. Self-service dining is no longer viable, so table service will become the norm. It is likely that cruises will also look to technology to help out, with diners ordering meals using their mobile phones.

The pandemic also means that onboard entertainment will change considerably. Theatres, cinemas, clubs, and shows will all operate with reduced capacity, meaning more space on the dancefloor and more empty seats in the auditorium. Larger gatherings will probably become rarer occurrences, and more outdoor activities will take their place.

Simplified itineraries

For the foreseeable future, multi-country itineraries will come with a degree of complexity as every country implements its own range of health measures and safety protocols. As requirements everywhere are changing regularly and quickly, itineraries are likely to be kept as simple as possible, at least for the moment. Cruises that stick to a single country, or have fewer port stops, or even cruises that don’t stop anywhere at all, will all be increasingly common.

Smaller ships

An inevitable result of the risk of large groups of people is that smaller ships will become more popular. Currently, small cruise ships with a complement of less than 250 are exempt from CDC regulations, and smaller lines are likely to prosper. Expect alternative cruising to experience a boom, with cruise lovers experimenting with river cruises, fjord cruises, and ships that visit smaller, less touristy ports.