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As if vacay 2020 wasn’t bad enough…

Have you heard the latest news about the cruise industry? I’ve gotten a little obsessed with cruiser YouTube channels recently. Mostly it’s because I love the videos they take from their balconies where the cool blue ocean ripples away from the ship and spreads out as far as the eye can see. I’m thinking of learning to flip furniture so I can take a Norwegian cruise to the Mediterranean because that cruise line has half a deck of inside cabins with virtual portholes that are completely dedicated to solo travelers. I’ve checked the almanac. The Mediterranean is not subject to hurricanes.

Ahhh, vacation 2021. God I need one vacation in the last 10 years to go right. Please just one without a tropical storm, sub seasonal temperatures, hurricanes or irritating relatives. Is that too much to ask?

Well. The Mediterranean cruise might still be available if I can find the cash but anything out of Florida? No. Not doing it. And I am not blaming the cruise lines. Most of them are taking the CDC advice very seriously. They also have an economic interest since most of the US market has been closed to cruising. These companies needed to prematurely end some cruises last year due to massive Covid outbreaks and they lost a lot of money. That could be a problem for cruise lines that had already commissioned and built ships that were supposed to be launching this year.

So, they have a significant interest in keeping their ships Covid free. That means requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination or Covid free status. That’s what most European cruises are doing. The hoops you have to jump to get on an AIDA cruise are intimidating. The Italian cruise line MSC does not require vaccines for the younger passengers but the mask wearing and social distancing has meant that there have been other changes. Passengers are constantly tested throughout the cruise on AIDA, temps are checked regularly, buffets are more like cafeterias where crew members hand passengers food in a unidirectional line. And if you go on an MSC excursion, it has to be with an MSC approved tour company and you absolutely can not leave the group for a second or the ship will leave you behind on the dock. They can’t take a chance that you became contaminated by the Gelateria vendor on your leisurely independent walk by yourself in Genoa.

These kinds of strict measures may be necessary if ships leave from Florida. But if 98% of passengers and 95% of the crew have been fully vaccinated, the masks can come off and everybody has a good time with few restrictions.

WHO could be OPPOSED to that??

Ron DeSantis. Yesterday, he signed a bill that forbids cruise ships from asking any passenger for their vaccination status. I suppose you could volunteer that information. The intent is to make it easy for the militantly unvaccinated refusenik to get onboard. Violations will result in a fine of $5000/passenger asked about their status.

There is some question whether Florida can enforce this on a ship that is a private company that does business in international waters.

I know! They could wait until the ship is out of US territory, request confirmation of vaccine status and throw anyone onboard off the ship at the next port! Well, that’s what I would do, along with giving them inside cabins at the back of the ship on deck 2 and restricting their food plan to main dining room seating at 3:30pm and 10:00pm, or mandatory room service.

Celebrity cruises is now facing the dilemma as to whether it will continue to use Florida as its embarkation port. There have been rumors that they could take the whole production to Galveston Texas but with MAGA governors as thick as thieves, you have to wonder when that option will be called off as well.

The other option is to demand vaccine status of every passenger, deny embarkation for the unvaccinated and just refuse to pay the fine. You know, take it up with the courts. There’s a good chance that the cruise lines will prevail due to international maritime laws that DeSantis has no control over.

The alternative could be very messy. Imagine allowing the refuseniks to sail. Do we REALLY expect that they will wear their masks where required, take a Covid test everyday, get their temps checked, follow the rules about staying with the cruise group when on land or risk being left behind?

Or are they more likely to get up in the grill of the first crew member who challenges them about a mask with a “make me” attitude.

Wait. That might work. The crew could put them off the ship at the next port for not following social distancing rules that every passenger must follow. I’d go with a zero tolerance policy. You absolutely must put on your mask and follow strict social distancing rules and you only get one chance to get it right. Passengers have been expelled for all kinds of things like moaning too loudly during sex. So, refusing to wear your mask when instructed would seem like a much more serious violation. Before they knew it, the cabin stewards would cheerfully help them pack while the vaccinated stand on the deck singing “Born Free” and waving them good-bye as the ship sails into the glorious sunset. One less maskhole to worry about.

I’m definitely going to look into that Mediterranean cruise if for no other reason than to breathe some sanity with my salty air.