Friday, January 29, 2021

Travel's future: COVID makes a gash in industry. Fingers crossed for Alaskan train ride


While hundreds of cruise ships have been docked in 2020, there's good news for smooth sailing
on the horizon for 2021.  Many lines plan to return to the seas, with many changes.


Airline passengers will find new distanced seating protocol
and masking, during the entire flight.

THE TRAVEL industry has suffered a mighty blow these past 11 months. Slowly, in parts of the world, ships are returning to the high seas.
Airlines are beginning to schedule more flights, with strict health regulations.
Beginning this week, on Jan. 26, U.S. airlines began to require a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery for all incoming international travelers, including U.S. citizens.
America's leading cruise lines have battened down the hatches due to COVID and many are not sailing until  mid-to-late 2021, others until 2022. 
Keep your eye on the travel prize, and such delights as our
trip aboard White Pass and Yukon Route out of Skagway, AK.
sad when our Alaska cruise cancelled as we had high hopes of reprising one of the world's most spectacular train journeys on the White Pass and Yukon Route out of Skagway, a highlight of our dozens of rail trips for its stunning scenery and jaw-dropping canyons. Fingers crossed for 2022!
Some lines have sold off old ships which are resurfacing in small new cruise lines. 
American Cruise Lines' all-U.S. itineraries on small ships will become even more attractive to passengers. American offers the comfort of larger ships with safety of U.S. ports and crew, while other lines are struggling with foreign port and entry restrictions. 
President  Joseph Biden on Monday reinstated the COVID travel restrictions that our former president lifted  on non-US citizens who have been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and much of Europe.
Biden also extended the restrictions to travelers who have recently been to South Africa.
Hawaii -- whose tourism was dramatically curtailed by the pandemic -- will likely require a "Covid negative" proof when tourism gears back up.
SO WHAT does all this mean for the millions of us feeling travel deprived?
Fliers will find their wings clipped, with more safety regulations both prior to boarding and once checked in.  Cruising -- locked down in North America and much of the rest of the world -- will likely not make a serious comeback until late-2021 and beyond.   Cruising's "post-Covid future" will offer fewer options, less shore excursions and tight rules on touring. Experts predict a surge in domestic travel and in our country, heightened interest in "close to home" trips which avoid air travel entirely. 
Lovers of cruising will find fewer options and
more limited ports of call in the next few years.
Keller and Cookie enjoy a promenade aboard Queen Elizabeth.
The long-awaited return of  cruise ships will begin slowly -- perhaps in May -- and continue through summer and into autumn and winter as people are vaccinated, and feel more confident to set sail again.
POLICIES are changing frequently and dramatically, so savvy travelers are planning ahead and checking the fine print and CDC edicts. Know the rules, consider the risks when  foreign travel cruising returns.
Royal Caribbean saw an overwhelming response to its trial sailings but canceled all departures through the end of April, with the exception of sailings out of Singapore and China. The line began limited sailings out of Singapore for Singapore residents only on Dec. 1.
A cruise ship anchors off the coast of Malta.
CUNARD canceled all departures through mid-May with Queen Victoria scheduled to return to service on May 17. Sailings on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth are canceled through May 28 and June 4, respectively. The venerable old line also halted sales for cruises eight days or longer that include a call at a U.S. port through November.
Crystal canceled its river voyages until late April and its ocean cruises into June. he line also has delayed the debut of its sleek new expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor, until mid-September.
American Cruise Lines' newer luxury riverboat vessels
make attractive use of glass for prime views. A small
passenger load of 184 assures intimate, attentive service.
U.S. ports are a plus, plus amenities of a large luxury vessel.
OCEANIA, NORWEGIAN, Regent and many other lines have canceled sailings through the end of April. Regent scratched its long awaited 2021 world cruise.
Princess canceled sailings through May 15, and cruises in Japan through June 26.
While we cruise travelers are anxious to get back out, we are  aware of the dangers and would rather be safe than sorry. So we wait for vaccinations and safety.
Many of us have canceled trips to favorite Greek Isles and other enticing Mediterranean locales. We've postponed vacations to Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Chile, Brazil and the Far East. Cruise lines are offering 125 per cent back on deposits, so that's an enticement to at least plan for the future.
A cruise ship pulls into a berth in Skagway, Alaska, which
hopes to see a return of the full season's cruising in 2022.
MANY LINES have canceled or postponed their Alaska 2021 seasons. Several are still touting roundtrip cruises from Vancouver and Seattle to Alaska, hoping to be able to make port visits in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Carnival Freedom is still scheduled to make its roundtrip voyages to Alaska from Seattle beginning April 27, 2021. Cunard Line cancelled its planned 2021 Alaska season last June, opting instead to redeploy its 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth on voyages from the UK
 AMERICAN CRUISE Lines with its all-domestic ports and routes offers "premium, personalized services" with reduced capacities, sanitation touch points and precautions to prevent the
spread of the virus. American cruises the Pacific Northwest, New England coast, the Mississippi, and more.  The highly rated line is also known for its small, tastefully designed ships, cultural enrichment programs, spacious staterooms, and an ambiance that encourages discovery and contemplation rather than "buffets, casinos and wave pools." Its all-U.S. ports are a large incentive in "Covid times."
Go on line, do some research, check out your options and keep up with updates from the CDC. For U.S. citizens, this might be the time to discover what's in our large and varied backyard and be grateful for that.

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Actors Jeff Kober, left, and Wally Kurth share
a moment in the "General Hospital" studios.
UP NEXT: Two Montana born actors are entertaining faithful fans on television's "General Hospital," one of history's longest running and most popular soap operas.  Wally Kurth and Jeff Kober didn't realize each was from Montana until friends told them -- and they met and even shared scenes on the set of the popular melodrama. Created in 1963, the storylines intersect and spin off with every manner of twist and turn. For a fun read about two talented men and their different paths to the long-running soap opera, tune in next week. Meanwhile, explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at the arts, nature, travel, family, health and more:





  1. Even with all the postponements, your update gives us hope!

  2. Great to see travel making a comeback!

  3. We're so anxious to be traveling again, but as you suggest, it will be a while and we must all be patient. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Bay Area NaturalistsApril 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM

    We are huge fans of riverboat cruising and glad to see American is planning such a variety of "close to home" options for us. We hope to travel with my elderly parents, and our college kids on one of the newer riverboats, which look lovely.