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Is a Socially Distanced Ocean Crystal Cruise Possible?

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Major scientific and technical breakthroughs are needed to subdue COVID-19.  Here’s an interesting idea under development:

The US Army has put out a $25 million bid to speed up the development of wearable coronavirus detectors that can identify early signs of the illness, according to a new report.

The military put out a request for project proposals through its Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium on Monday — and hopes to award up to 10 contracts within weeks, Stars and Stripes reported. The contagion has already infected nearly 5,000 service members.

“There is a dire and urgent need for development of rapid, accurate wearable diagnostics to identify and isolate pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases and track/prevent the spread of the virus,” said the Army’s proposal, according to the outlet.

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2 hours ago, almostretired said:

Is the question "is a socially distanced Crystal cruise possible?" or rather "what is required to convince enough guests to cruise?"?  

 

I agree that full social distancing on a cruise ship is neither possible nor sufficient and I think the restart of cruising will require a multifaceted approach.  I’ll start with a review of things that went wrong on major incidents.

I believe the Diamond Princess started off with a reported 10 cases that blossomed quite rapidly until the passengers were allowed off   The virus continued to spread even after people were confined to their rooms, likely through contact with crew who were delivering meals.  Much the same thing happened with the Zaandam   Holland America attempted to terminate the cruise when or even before the first cases were found but was not able to do so for another 2 weeks due to closed ports.  Interestingly, the spread of the virus was nearly halted when the Rotterdam came to assist with supplies, medical personal, PPE, vacant rooms, and test kits.

Social distancing where practical must be part of the solution but some other things should be part of the plan.

1. I think we need a structure where a ship with some sick people will never again be denied the opportunity to discharge their people.  That would require some kind of a plan to get people back to their home countries or homes without becoming a burden to the cities involved, possibly involving private flights.  Crystal with it’s own air fleet may be a step ahead in that regard.

2. I think cruisers will only gradually return to cruising and many ships will sit empty for some time.  Perhaps cruise lines could get together through CLIA and designate some ships stationed in areas where cruising happens to be happening ready to respond to an incident, much as Rotterdam did with the Zaandam.  Some form of payment by cruising ships would be required to support that.

3. The main elements of Maryland’s response are PPE, testing, contact tracing, and social distancing, and I think all could have a part in a return to cruising.  While it isn’t practical to require guests to quarantine before a 14-day cruise, that may be appropriate for the crew beginning what is likely a 6-8 month contract.  It could be a 14-day quarantine or perhaps a shorter one ending with a test.

4.  Ships should certainly be required to maintain an inventory of test kits and PPE.

5.  To facilitate contact tracing perhaps there should be a return to fixed dining until the situation improves.  Not such a big deal for dinner but breakfast and lunch would be a bigger challenge.  Perhaps there could be tables set corresponding to the Waterside table numbers and people would dine in Marketplace one day and Waterside the next but always with their same tablemates.  Perhaps if a passenger gets ill, quarantine could be limited to that passenger and his/her tablemates.  The Bistro could become a take out venue for between meal hunger.

6, Muster would be a challenge.  Perhaps in stages by deck or people being assigned a muster time based on their check in time.

7. The capacity of the Galaxy would need to be drastically reduced.  Perhaps shows would be ticked by lottery (everybody gets tickets to about 1/3 of the shows) and the shows would also be livestreamed on stateroom TV.  The same could be done with lectures, and Q&A could even be taken by telephone.  Crystal is also pretty good about modifying shows on the fly and creating in house productions which could reduce close contact between dancers.  Masks could also be created to complement costumes.

8, Capacity would need to be reduced somewhat to allow some vacant rooms for quarantine

9.  Certainly passenger masks would need to be a part of the equation, especially in corridors and various public areas.  I think we are going to need to get used to that in life in general, and why should a cruise ship be different.

Even if all of these were in place I think a return to cruising will be a very gradual process.  What else might one suggest?

Roy

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9 minutes ago, rafinmd said:

Even if all of these were in place I think a return to cruising will be a very gradual process.  What else might one suggest?

Roy

 

My only comment is that Crystal would have to pay me, handsomely, to take such a cruise.  

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A rather well thought out list Roy.  A couple of points:

 

Crews currently have different length contracts that vary by department and duty.  The crew does not come sign on board together and rotations occur frequently --- entertainers and lecturers more so.  You cannot quarantine each as they board and instant tests may not catch Covid-19 (or something else) immediately as it may have been transmitted on the flight the day before boarding.

Every venue would require capacity controls - Dinner Club, Bistro, Avenue, theater, you name all the rest - every venue.  Would someone cruise knowing that every event or eating location would be rationed?  

We want to cruise but we would hesitate with restrictions that took away the enjoyment.  I may be less risk adverse than other due to what i have done for fifty years, more willing to mitigate responsibly and accept more exposure but Crystal (and other lines) have to determine what can reduce the fear as well as the liability to each individual (or to enough individuals who will pay) to go back to sea.

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On 5/4/2020 at 9:45 AM, claudiaYVR said:

Agree, but in the absence of a vaccine and/or a cure, some form of social distancing (in Canada we call it "physical distancing") may be the only way to prevent outbreaks on board.

No, the only way to avoid outbreaks on board is to not go.

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1 hour ago, almostretired said:

We want to cruise but we would hesitate with restrictions that took away the enjoyment.  

 

At the end of the day that is how we feel as well. We have nothing on the books until June 2021 (on a different line) and the final payment is not due until February. If things are back to what we feel is an acceptable "normal", we will go, if not, we won't. As much as we love to cruise, sailing on a "hospital" ship holds no appeal.

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The only answer for most of the traveling public is to have a vaccine and therapeutic cure for Covid 19.  There are several reports that a vaccine will be available by early fall with initial availability for the most vulnerable and general availability to the general public early next year.  We all hope this happens and the world returns to the new normal. 
 

In the meantime, we are booked on a 49 day cruise on the Symphony starting September 20th and we hope to be able to go.  We will accept the risk and probably itinerary changes but we will not cruise under social distancing rules and with everyone wearing masks, etc.  We are very willing to comply with these requirements at home but not on a luxury vacation.  

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1 hour ago, flyingshoes said:

 

 

My only comment is that Crystal would have to pay me, handsomely, to take such a cruise.  

 

Completely agree with you!  Why on earth would anyone take a cruise under those conditions?  That sounds awful. 

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53 minutes ago, wripro said:

No, the only way to avoid outbreaks on board is to not go.

Again that is a personal choice.  The risk will never be zero even with a vaccine.  Never.  So then it becomes what's "normal" or what risk will each cruiser accept.  Wearing a mask on a shore excursion is doable but on the ship - no.

 

.  

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Unfortunately if we continue on this insane path of people not wearing masks and not social distancing on land as we are seeing with each passing day the safest place will  be to stay at home and that is unfortunate.  Just insane.

 

I will keep an open mind on all of this and see what the cruise lines come up with.  As I've said I believe keys include vaccine and/or medicine to treat the symptoms and (not or but and) testing with immediate results.  

 

I think these things are going to be prerequisites for cruising and other forms of travel/leisure.

 

Even with a vaccine changes will be needed in many aspects of our lives.

 

There are still more unknowns than knowns on this Virus.

 

I ask myself:


Will you go on a long haul flight where you will need to eat hydrate and/or eat?

 

Will you stay at a hotel?

 

Will you go to the dentist?  Get a haircut?  Dine out at a restaurant?  

 

Each of these things carries risk IMHO.

 

Keith

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I know the numbers in the U.S. are still very high and this is leading people to feel very pessimistic about when (and if) things will ever get back to normal.  But I think the road ahead isn't as bleak. In Australia we are fortunate enough to be down to approximately 24 new infections  per day for the entire country. Our total case numbers are just under 7,000, with only 800 active cases - i.e. 6,200 have fully recovered. There are only 27 cases in ICU units. Our country is starting to open up - hopefully much more next week. The advice from our government Is not to wear masks unless you are unwell.

 

Now imagine a scenario where this is the case for all major countries - and it will get there even though it might take some countries longer than others. Countries that have huge numbers might even find they are better off in the long run if it turns out that having had the virus you're immune from catching it again. IMO this puts a very different spin on travel. We are never going to fully irradiate the virus but if the numbers in all countries remains very low and we can have instant testing results and/or antibody tests this will make travel as risk free as any other decision we take in life. 

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My husband and I love to cruise with Crystal and we have made up our minds that when Crystal feels that it's safe to cruise again, we'll be right there with them.   

 
At least, we’ll give them a chance to show that they can still deliver an enjoyable experience that’s worth the money.
 
Will life onboard look different than in the past?  Probably!  My life on land has changed in ways that I never expected a month ago.  I am working to adapt and become accustomed to masks, sanitizers, social distancing, plexiglass barriers, etc. etc.
 
In spite of all these changes, I still find present enjoyment on land and hopefully will find future enjoyment on the sea as well.
 
Emily
 
 

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2 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Unfortunately if we continue on this insane path of people not wearing masks and not social distancing on land as we are seeing with each passing day the safest place will  be to stay at home and that is unfortunate.  Just insane.

 

I will keep an open mind on all of this and see what the cruise lines come up with.  As I've said I believe keys include vaccine and/or medicine to treat the symptoms and (not or but and) testing with immediate results.  

 

I think these things are going to be prerequisites for cruising and other forms of travel/leisure.

 

Even with a vaccine changes will be needed in many aspects of our lives.

 

There are still more unknowns than knowns on this Virus.

 

I ask myself:


Will you go on a long haul flight where you will need to eat hydrate and/or eat?

 

Will you stay at a hotel?

 

Will you go to the dentist?  Get a haircut?  Dine out at a restaurant?  

 

Each of these things carries risk IMHO.

 

Keith

We ate out last night for the first time in seven weeks.  We sat outside, maybe 20 feet between us and a neighboring table and people, - separate crews for each task - clean and sanitize, order, deliver and clear.  Very safe.  Going to the dentist next week.  Haircut hopefully sooner than later.  I am more worried driving - that the driver heading my way with a closing speed of 100 MPH, can drive in her/his lane.  There is risk in nearly any task, some obvious and some hidden.  Some have a the potential for catastrophic results, others minor.  We remain cautious but we cannot stop living.  The impact has been greatest on seniors but 1220 seniors in Florida out Remember that social distancing does not cure Covid-19 but was meant to slow the outbreak where we could provide health care.  Florida never came close to stressing the health care system.

 

Reagardless, when Crystal makes a decision, we will make a decision.

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2 hours ago, almostretired said:

Regardless, when Crystal makes a decision, we will make a decision.

I would like to look at it that way, but we are going to have to make a decision probably before Crystal does as to whether or not to cancel before we enter the penalty phase for our Jan. 2021 booking.  Probably the vaccine will become available just AFTER the cruise departs, but we won't know that in August when we have to make this decision.  And we certainly won't know by then if it will sail at all, and if so how life will change on board.

 

So far the "Crystal Confidence" policy does not apply to 2021 sailings.  Will they extend it for the World Cruise (or in our case segments thereof)?  Hopefully they will, and hopefully they will do it before the world cruise final payment date and penalty phase.  The bottom 2-4 categories on each of our segments are still open for guarantee bookings only, as has been the case for more than a year.  Not many have cancelled yet, but maybe, like us, they are waiting for the final payment date to see how things look.  I suspect that there will be a lot more cabins available in September.

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Never say never about masks,  I was on a cruise in Dubrovnik about ten years ago and a Japanese cruise ship, docked next to us.  About half the passengers were wearing masks as they debarked.

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8 hours ago, almostretired said:

We ate out last night for the first time in seven weeks.  We sat outside, maybe 20 feet between us and a neighboring table and people, - separate crews for each task - clean and sanitize, order, deliver and clear.  Very safe.  Going to the dentist next week.  Haircut hopefully sooner than later.  I am more worried driving - that the driver heading my way with a closing speed of 100 MPH, can drive in her/his lane.  There is risk in nearly any task, some obvious and some hidden.  Some have a the potential for catastrophic results, others minor.  We remain cautious but we cannot stop living.  The impact has been greatest on seniors but 1220 seniors in Florida out Remember that social distancing does not cure Covid-19 but was meant to slow the outbreak where we could provide health care.  Florida never came close to stressing the health care system.

 

Reagardless, when Crystal makes a decision, we will make a decision.

I'm going to follow the guidelines by the medical experts from the Govt. plus what our own physicians have told us as recently as the other day.

 

Dining inside a restaurant, getting on a flight across the pond, staying at a hotel and getting inside a vehicle that is not our own is not in our "cards" for now.  We'll also wait on hair cuts.  

 

Yes there is no guarantee in life.  We could trip over the bed but......there are ways to minimize risk even while driving.  Drive daytime rather than nighttime, drive defensively, anticipate.  

 

Anne Marie and I have a lot of Crystal Cruises in our future plans.  We will be careful in the short-terms (no we won't dine at a restaurant this month) so hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, we won't get the virus and we will be well to go on this Crystal Cruises.

 

We consider ourselves very fortunate having been pretty much in the Epicenter in New York and in March and also having taken three flights in March with two of the three being 15 or so hours apiece.  We don't want to push our luck right now for things such as dining out that are not in the big scheme.

 

Stay safe, well and healthy and I hope we all have a lot of Crystal cruises in our future.

 

Keith

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, Keith1010 said:

 

 

Dining inside a restaurant, getting on a flight across the pond, staying at a hotel and getting inside a vehicle that is not our own is not in our "cards" for now.  We'll also wait on hair cuts.  

 

Keith

 

I bravely ventured outside and had my hair cut (and coloured) earlier this week and I was comfortable doing so.  My hairdresser is not located within a mall or other public place so I could drive straight to the building, park and go directly inside.  I know her, trust her and could see she is following the re-opening guidelines to the letter.    However, after more than a month of sitting gathering dust my car felt decidedly in need of a little TLC so I've also been to a nearby quick service station and had that done too... Due to age specific restrictions in place, I'm still not allowed in public places that are beginning to reopen (malls, restaurants, retail outlets or certain open spaces) or to return to working from the office but it's good to be able to restore some semblance of normality to life.   I now have my fingers crossed for my first 'social distancing' golf outing which I hope will happen this coming weekend...  I was fortunate to have spent a fantastic week onboard the Esprit in the Seychelles a few weeks before Covid-19 took over all our lives so I'm not suffering serious cruise withdrawal symptoms just yet - and I think there is a long road to travel before cruising becomes a reality again for anyone.....I'm sure lessons will need to be learned from other transport, accommodation, dining and entertainment providers such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, theatres etc. before cruise ships sail again.. 

 

Anne..

Edited by Jayayeff

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Posted (edited)

LOL Jayayeff, I haven't had a haircut since 6 January.  Well done you!  Was all set to go for another visit when this all blew up.  I'm looking like a woolly mammoth right now but I just don't care.  Our rules here in Australia are very strict with big fines if you're caught not complying with them.

 

But ... I'm with Tripacian ... if cruises open up in the next "several" months, I'm in!  I'm no longer a "spring chicken" nor do I believe I'm "younger than springtime" (unlike many others).  Even though I'm an old crone (as many on this board are too) I'm still active, still getting around with ease and still ALIVE so I live for the day.  Here's my theme song .... Tripacian, you might care to join in with me.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9FRqE7eMJQ

 

 

Edited by LC1950
typo

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9 hours ago, SusieQft said:

I would like to look at it that way, but we are going to have to make a decision probably before Crystal does as to whether or not to cancel before we enter the penalty phase for our Jan. 2021 booking.  Probably the vaccine will become available just AFTER the cruise departs, but we won't know that in August when we have to make this decision.  And we certainly won't know by then if it will sail at all, and if so how life will change on board.

 

So far the "Crystal Confidence" policy does not apply to 2021 sailings.  Will they extend it for the World Cruise (or in our case segments thereof)?  Hopefully they will, and hopefully they will do it before the world cruise final payment date and penalty phase.  The bottom 2-4 categories on each of our segments are still open for guarantee bookings only, as has been the case for more than a year.  Not many have cancelled yet, but maybe, like us, they are waiting for the final payment date to see how things look.  I suspect that there will be a lot more cabins available in September.

We have the same decision point regarding a January Serenity cruise - plus a few days before we make a decision on a September river cruise.  The decision for September being 75%-25% money/FCC or after 16 May 100% FCC.  I di get an email on 2021 river cruises that lists no voyage longer than 7 days.

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Lets not forget the getting to and from a cruise.  Even if all is well on the ship and then something happens and you can't get home. 

I think it will be a long time before cruising gets back to "normal" - sure there maybe ships sailing but back to a year ago - I think it will be a while.  I also feel that if someone coughs on a ship that could lead to panic which would spread via news all over the place

I also think there is going to be a financial impact that may exceed the health one.  The US and it states as well as other countries and spending more than they take in especially with so many unemployed and many businesses may never re-open and jobs and savings lost.

Time will tell but I think it will be several years before cruising returns to normal - there may be some ships sailing before that but new normal will take a while.

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The presumption is that we can not get back to normal until we have a cure.    The normal being no need for social distancing or face masks or the other current restrictions on socializing.  The cure being a vaccine.  But then if Covid 19 is like the Flu a vaccine one year might not be effective the next year as the virus mutates.  We may never have a cure.  Certainly we will never have any absolute guarantees.  In that case we will always be in the "new normal".

 

I do not believe there needs to be a cure to get back to normal "old normal".  The problem is not the actual virus so much as the risk of death caused by the virus.  The risk has to be one that the passengers and the world are willing to accept.  Therefore the need is not for a 100% cure but for a therapy that reduces the risk of death from the disease to an acceptable level.

 

On a cruise ship there is always the risk of norovirus but it was not enough of a deterrent to keep enough people from cruising that cruise ships were not profitable.  But certainly some people avoided taking a cruise because they did not want to risk the norovirus.  However people seldom die from the Norovirus they just get sick.

 

Also flu can spread through a ship and people die from it but again not in anything close to the mortality rate that Covid 19 has.

 

My point is people are willing to act in certain ways with the risk of getting sick but would not act in the same way with the risk of dying.  Therefore the solution is developing therapies for people who get the virus which will keep them from dying.  

 

If you knew that there was a risk of contracting the Virus but that the Ship has a simple way for diagnosing the disease and an effective treatment on board the ship (ie Remdesivir if it works) that you could take and would reduce the risk of dying from the virus to a miniscule level like the flu mortality level, then enough people would likely go back to cruising and assume the risks,  without any need for social distancing or face masks or the other current restrictions on socializing.

 

The key is not to eliminate the virus but to eliminate the fear of dying from the virus.

 

 

 

 

 

5%

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I think you also have to eliminate the panic a case would cause and some assurance that you could get home easily after 1 person on your ship got sick.  I think, for the next xx months if cruising restarts and some one gets a cold while on a ship the ship could be blocked from entering a port and the passengers refused disembarking for 14 days of so.

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5 hours ago, ctjon said:

I think you also have to eliminate the panic a case would cause and some assurance that you could get home easily after 1 person on your ship got sick.  I think, for the next xx months if cruising restarts and some one gets a cold while on a ship the ship could be blocked from entering a port and the passengers refused disembarking for 14 days of so.

In April, substantial acrimony and desperation developed when the Zaandam (with infected passengers and crew) along with the Rotterdam (with non-infected passengers and crew) struggled to end their hapless voyages. Eventually, Port Everglades relented and imposed additional onerous requirements on Holland America, making them responsible for departing passengers’ medical care and/or lengthy journeys home.

A lesson lies therein!    Anyone who intends to take a cruise in the near future should realize that it is now widely regarded as a frivolous, non-essential activity.    Clearly, most cruise destinations do not want to encounter and deal with potential problems and costs caused by passengers and crew infected by COVID-19.

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Personally, I do not see me cruising for at least two years.  I am ok with that.  I do not want to be a guinea pig and try to cruise again when (and if) Crystal and others start cruising in the next year to 18 months.  I will wait and see how it plays out.  

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7 hours ago, cruisr said:

Personally, I do not see me cruising for at least two years.  I am ok with that.  I do not want to be a guinea pig and try to cruise again when (and if) Crystal and others start cruising in the next year to 18 months.  I will wait and see how it plays out.  

This is how we feel too. And it will be a while before we want to fly too.

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