FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s time to set sail as cruising resumes throughout Florida ports.
Vaccinated or not, passengers are free to travel the open waters once more in the state. Restrictions aren't holding cruisers back.
“We were really kind of in limbo.”
Darren Leclerc and Ramon Ocano are business partners with Cruise Planners. Like many industries when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, traveling took a back seat. Cruises postponed and canceled. But now, they’re starting to see those same passengers make a come back.
“We call it revenge travel," says Ocano. "But that’s really what it’s like! People are really starting to get out. Even before the cruises all started, we were booking people to Hawaii and Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and Cancun. People just want to travel.”
There are still certain protocols being followed as passengers return. While Florida does not require cruisers to possess a vaccine passport, other areas may request proof of vaccination. There’s one cruise line- Royal Caribbean- who is allowing unvaccinated passengers.
“Everyone’s goal is to have at least 95% vaccinated," said Ocano. "However, if you choose to go on a Royal Caribbean out of Florida and you are not vaccinated, there are several protocols. There are tests that you have to pay for yourself as the cruiser and there are tests you have to do before, after and even during. You have to wear a mask and there are, maybe, places on the ship that you’re not allowed to go.”
Even though we’re already in the middle of July, there are still quite a few promotions to be had by all of the major cruise lines. But, as Leclerc says, they won’t last long. Pent-up demand is going to increase prices.
“If you really want to take advantage, there’s some great deals being had by all of the major cruise lines right now but those deals are probably going to end very soon so book early! That’s what we always tell people- book early.”
And being on a cruise ship, they say, is one of- if not the most- safest ways to travel.
“Once they get it all together and it’s all up and running- as they’ve done a great job as Darren has already mentioned- it’s going to feel a lot more normal," said Ocano. "Especially if you’re vaccinated.”