Would you go on a cruise in 2020?

UPDATE (2:30pm ET, April 10, 2020): The CDC has extended its “no sail order” stating, per USA TODAY, “that cruise ships can’t board passengers and return to their sailing schedules until one of three events takes place.”

Back on March 27, I retweeted a news story from NBC 6 South Florida that read: “#BREAKING: Four people on a Holland America cruise ship that was trying to get to Fort Lauderdale have died, and dozens of passengers and crew on board have reported flu-like symptoms with at least 2 testing positive for coronavirus, officials said.” I added a comment on my retweet that said: “I don’t think any sane person is going on a cruise for at least a year.”

Like almost everything in life, not everyone agreed with me and some even took offense to my comment. One writer, Tamara Hinson, from the United Kingdom’s Telegraph, even took it a step further when she tweeted me earlier today to say:

“Thank you for inspiring this piece Johnny Jet! https://t.co/XdqzvI251Y.” She linked to her story entitled: The last thing the cruise industry needs is armchair warriors and their tired stereotypes.

In the story, she wrote, “Recently, I’ve seen countless so-called travel experts (most with no knowledge of cruising) air laughable assertions – that the cruise industry is doomed (wrong) and that cruise ships are dirty (they’re not). Let’s remember that Diamond Princess, the cruise industry’s first casualty, was struck down because passengers unknowingly brought the virus onboard, not because of cleanliness issues. Back then, far less was known about the virus, and how to stop its spread. It was unprecedented.

“It’s frustrating that, when the global travel industry is clearly in dire straits, some are intent on tearing down the cruise sector, fuelling misconceptions as publicly as possible. Take travel blogger Johnny Jet’s Tweet to 124,000 followers: “I don’t think any sane person is going on a cruise for at least a year.” The barrage of responses from cruisers professing their insanity proved that the vast majority can’t wait to set sail.”

I tweeted Tamara back saying:

“Thanks for including me! I stand by my statement and I do know about cruising as I’ve been on dozens and loved them all. I’ve even spoken at cruise conferences like SeaTrade. However, you couldn’t pay me to go on a large or medium size ship until they find a vaccine or treatment.”

I’m sure she’s a nice person and we’re not having a nasty fight. It’s just a difference of opinion. Believe me, it doesn’t give me pleasure making negative statements because I’m a positive person and I pride myself on promoting travel. Especially international travel because as corny as it sounds, I truly believe that the more that people travel the world, the less prejudices there will be.

Cruising is a fantastic way to see the world because you can see multiple places without having to pack and unpack. I have met so many wonderful people, seen so many beautiful destinations and I also find it extremely relaxing—especially on small luxury ships like Seabourn. However, I don’t think this is the time to be going on an ocean cruise. And it has nothing to do with cleanliness as Tamara seems to wrongly suggest I’m saying in her article. It’s simply the very nature of cruising. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people are together in a confined environment where a virus can easily spread.

For me, it’s a no-brainer to not want to be stuck on a vessel that you can’t get off of during a pandemic. And I’m hardly suggesting that cruising is done for. But I do believe that it will take time before people will feel comfortable congregating in such close quarters, especially when they can’t leave at will, unlike a hotel or other building. To each their own, I suppose. I look forward to the time when the travel industry bounces back (hopefully soon, stronger than ever and with new ways to protect our planet) and I will always be a vocal advocate of travel but there are indisputable changes afoot in my beloved industry and we’d all be foolish to ignore our ever-changing reality. My tweet that seemed to rile Tamara up was simply an acknowledgment of that fact.

I know there are a lot of people out there who claim they don’t like cruising and they’ve never even been on a cruise. But I’m not one of those people. My very first cruise was a long weekend cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico in the mid-90s. I instantly loved it and that was on an old Carnival ship. But you can’t beat the price when food, accommodations and entertainment is included.

Since then, I’ve been on dozens of cruises and I have loved every one, even the Baltic cruise where my wife lost her passport in Estonia. Here’s that story and below this article are other stories about ocean and river cruises I’ve been on, along with some stories from our other writers and tons of cruise travel tips.

BTW: The only comment listed on the article at the time of this publishing, was by a man named David Smith and he agrees with me. David wrote:

“Take travel blogger Johnny Jet’s Tweet to 124,000 followers: “I don’t think any sane person is going on a cruise for at least a year.” The barrage of responses from cruisers professing their insanity proved that the vast majority can’t wait to set sail.” I would go further than that. I don’t think any sane person will go on a cruise until there is an effective vaccine for covid19. This may take a year, 18 months, or there may never be a vaccine. If the latter, then the cruise industry will be a thing of the past. As someone in his 70s who has done over 30 cruises, I simply couldn’t justify the risk of going on another cruise ship  until the mortality rate is dramatically reduced by either a vaccine or more effective treatments are available. Yes, I know there are many diehard cruisers who are desperate to get back on board. I think as events unfold over the next couple of years, these diehards will be forced to accept that their cruising days are over.”

So how about you? Do you agree with me or do you think I’m a “so-called travel expert” with no knowledge of cruising?

Let me know in the comments!

Past cruise stories

My cruises:

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Cruise stories by contributors:


45 Comments On "Would You Go on a Cruise in 2020?"
  1. Kevin Wilkerson|

    I actually agree with you JJ. Not because I don’t believe cruises won’t be safe or or not clean – heck they may be the cleanest places to be while traveling after all this – but because of the mental hurdle.

  2. Nadine Courtney|

    I had been looking forward to my next cruise…but there is no way I’m going on another one before there’s a vaccine, period. Completely agree with you. Cruising in 2020 is simply not happening.

  3. Marlin|

    I just booked a cruise yesterday at the end of July in the Mediterranean (Rome to Spain) with Royal Caribbean and I am very excited, to many people give in to fear. You do know the odds of dieing in a car crash are around 1 in 77?

  4. Keith|

    I’m in agreement with you Johnny.. No cruise til all this is wayyyy settled back down! Thanks for all your informative travel advice!

  5. Kimberley Lovato|

    Agree 100 percent with you. If we, including medical and scientific professionals, are promoting social distancing as a means of mitigating the spread of COVID19, how can anyone in the same breath promote congregating on a ship, no matter how lovely and luxury it is, full of confined and shared spaces? Irresponsible.

  6. Pam|

    I agree with you, Johnny. I would not cruise. As far as Tamara’s comment about the cleanliness of cruise ships–even a petri dish starts out sterile.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good point

  7. Susan Michael|

    I’ve had 3 cruises cancelled so far, and one is still scheduled for November (16 days between Lisbon and Rio). Due to my April cancellation, the cruiseline has given me 125% of my fare to be used in the future, so I’ve pulled the trigger and booked a Baltic sailing for this October. After 70 plus cruises in which I’ve seen flu and norovirus, I understand that illness spreads (but it also spreads in university settings, airports, housing communities). Not giving up on the opportunity to see new places in comfortable digs. BTW my 112 day around the world cruise is still planned for January 2021.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      You’re brave. Are you worried about not finding a port to let you dock?

  8. Cheryl L Edmond|

    NO CRUISE for 2020. I will consider another cruise when a vaccine is available for the Covid-19 and not before.

  9. Arie Boris|

    I do not believe the cruise industry should be singled out. I don’t think JJ is suggesting he won’t go on a cruise, but he would go to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden under present conditions.
    Society is currently shut down to avoid contagion and the tough love is to keep it shut(social distancing) until sufficient testing allows us to track who has it and who has the anti bodies. As Dr Fauci says let the virus and it’s progression tell us when we can go back and what the new normal will be. I’m sure Arison and Fain, etc will allow medical professionals to establish the new health protocols for guests to board their ships to maintain a safe public health environment once onboard…..too much money involved for them not too.
    Arie Boris. CruiseGourmet.com
    Arie Boris

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Agreed. I would not go to a basketball game either. But at least at a basketball game you can walk out of the stadium anytime you want.

  10. Lonny MacLeod|

    You are so right! I’ve been on seven cruises but there is no way I would ever set foot on a cruise ship anytime in the near future. I am thinking years away if ever!

  11. Shirley Grabowski|

    hi johnny, i would not go on a cruise now especially without a vaccine available
    and it surely has changed my mind about the cheap rooms, i bet the people that had a balcony room could at least not feel so claustrophobic. next time i go its a balcony room
    thanks johnny your right

  12. Sue|

    I would look at the cruise ships individually. Some have better track records in general. We have cruised only with Regent, and they are very diligent about cleanliness. Plus they have a smaller capacity. They did not have the Norovirus when it was going around on other cruise ships. Virus’ can be spread through various other forms of travel, so does that mean you won’t take an airline flight for awhile–a place you can’t get off either, eat their food, close quarters etc. Or stay in hotels, where the virus could potentially still live. I guess I choose to live my life without fear and panic, I mean to be smart but maintain a balance.

  13. Dan Woog|

    Here’s my beef with the cruise industry. For years they registered their ships under foreign flags, for the sole purpose of evading US taxes. Then they wanted US taxpayers to bail them out. That’s like the boy who murdered his parents and then asked the court for mercy because he was an orphan.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hey Dan,

      I agree with you 100%

  14. Mike Levine|

    We are scheduled to go on a Baltic Cruise on August 24. Both of us would be high risk if we caught the virus, so even if the ship sails, we won’t be on it.

  15. James Bauer|

    Have a cruise booked on Princess for late September 2020 and plan on going. I believe that the Coronavirus will be under control by then and that the cruise industry will be practicing extremely high levels of sanitation to protect passengers while protecting their industry.

  16. Rachael|

    We were booked on a Viking River Cruise set to sail on April 2nd. Viking offered full refunds in Feb to those who had concerns but we were still a go. Then they made the decision for us and cancelled the cruise along with the international flights. Yes, we will cruise again and looking at 2020 itineraries . I agree that one needs to be safe and aware of their surroundings but we won’t live in fear. One thing you don’t hear much talk about is what people can do to improve their immune system. A strong immune system is key.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Viking is a class operation and they get it. They realize people will come back if they don’t screw people over.

  17. Michael Slough|

    I will never again cruise on the new generation of mega ships with 4000 plus passengers. In my experience the cruise industry has become too greedy as these large ships are no more than overcrowded floating resorts with as many cabins, pay to use restaurants, shops and attractions as possible. No more promenade deck, much less open deck space, inadequate number of lifts, swimming pools, dining and bistro rooms and theatres often means excessive crowding and non stop queues. Under such conditions it takes little time for somebody with influenza, a cold, coronavirus or any other infectious disease to spread it all around the ship in a 10-14 cruise.

  18. Mark Van raam|

    I agree that a cruise is not in the cards for this year. I had a cruise in early May on the Danube canceled by the operator. I also have a Transatlantic cruise on Holland America (Amsterdam to Boston via Iceland/Greenland/Canada) in August that I canceled. Just too many unknowns for this year.
    I’ve done 5 cruises in the last 3 years and will do more in the future.

    There is a downside to canceling the cruise. I’m having some trouble with canceling trains in Germany and a Novatel hotel in Munich (90% cancel fee). I’m hopeful the Delta/KLM flights in May will be canceled so I can get a full refund.

    Also up in the air is a family week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in June, since there area is closed to all but permanent residents.

    Love your input on The Tech Guy podcast.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks for sharing and the kind words

  19. Sam Kephart|

    You are ALL missing the friggin’ point here. First, a disclaimer. To date (I’m 69), I have traveled on eleven (11) commercial cruises aboard Royal Caribbean (3), Carnival (3), Holland America (2), and Norwegian (3). Further, I have also been on five (5) private megayacht cruises on the Med with my late billionaire mentor. SO… I truly ENJOY cruising. COVID-19 is a bioweapon with built-in “multiple stages”… kind of like skyrocket fireworks on July 4th. It’s designed to have cascading effects, so there will be a seeming slow down and return to normalcy followed by another wave. Do any of you REALLY want your dumbass aboard a ship when the next wave of illness hits? SARS-CoV-2, the underlying virus that causes COVID-19 disease, is a genetically enhanced (turbocharged) bioweapon. In 2014, a SARS virus was taken apart, using CRISPR gene-splicing technology, and the infectiousness trait (easy to transmit) genetic trait of HIV was added-in. Wake the hell-up!

  20. Sam Kephart|
  21. Bernard|

    My answer is no, not in 2020, not in 2021, not ever. The cruise lines have demonstrated extreme disregard for the health and safety of their passengers and crews and do not deserve a cent of taxpayer “bail out” money.

    My wife and I had plans to travel to France this summer but that is postponed to 2021. We are unlikely to get on a plane again until we have been vaccinated against Covid-19. I’m over 70 (just) my wife is approaching that age, we’re in very good health, but we will not take the type of risk that comes with being in a confined space with a crowd of people for many hours.

  22. Vad Beren|

    Another one in JJ’s camp. He had a long post and few may overlook the main point he was making:
    “For me, it’s a no-brainer to not want to be stuck on a vessel that you can’t get off of during a pandemic. And I’m hardly suggesting that cruising is done for. But I do believe that it will take time before people will feel comfortable congregating in such close quarters, especially when they can’t leave at will, unlike a hotel or other building.”

    Personally I just had to re-schedule by a year an Oct 2020 Mediterranean Celebrity cruise. I’ve even “lost” $800 as next year’s similar class cabins are more expensive with less perks offered. There also were contributing factors of American Airline cancelling second leg of Europe flight-in and my personal anticipation of United flight back will follow AA in kind.
    So on top of being out of 90 day cruise cancellation window – I’d have to scramble to re-book airlines in the last minute time frame.
    Play it safe, come back when dust settles, and it will! BTW it would have been our 12th or 13th cruise, don’t care to count as we will be back on board!

  23. Sam Kephart|

    I would politely suggest that folks read this article before making any major trip plans by ship or via long-distance airline travel for the rest of 2020: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/lifestyle/renew-houston/health/article/Texas-A-M-pandemic-expert-coronavirus-stages-15192147.php

  24. Bette Munley|

    Grand Slam, Touchdown & Hat Trick to JJ!!
    My husband and I traveled to Antarctica on our 67th cruise in February and considered ourselves fortunate when we returned and learned of the demise of the Diamond and
    Grand Princess ships. We,too, will not be embarking on a cruise until a vaccine is available. Common sense must prevail!
    Well articulated, Sam Kephart!

  25. Paco Cordova|

    I have been on cruises in the very distant past and they were a blast. That being said I would not book a vacation on a cruise ship now or in the future after reading the horror stories of ships wondering aimlessly looking for a port to disembark sick passengers. I agree with your point of view. Stay safe!

  26. elliot|

    I might have phrased it differently as sanity is a moving target. There are people who are risk-averse (as you should be with your family) and those who are willing to take on a little more risk as they otherwise might not be able to afford it. So – not sanity but maybe it is situational. It will certainly take a year or more for the blue water cruises to recover. Smaller ships, like on the rivers, will probably see a jump faster as they are land-oriented and smaller. And – Seabourn? Really? Remind next time you need a break on a Scenic E-bike and I will let you know you have another 10 miles to go before we stop. :-)

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Ha! I was only talking about Ocean cruises. River cruises Scenic is my Fave!

  27. elliot|

    I guess maybe as a small ship, Scenic Eclipse is more of a possibility for your next ocean cruise :-).

    1. Johnny Jet|

      That would be nice but they don’t take kids and I don’t want to be stuck at sea without a port without my family.

  28. Bruce Clarke|

    No crusing for me until there’s a vaccine for Covid-19

  29. Jim|

    I will cruise again. Maybe 2020, but certainly 2021. Are we saying no ball games. Forget Madison Square Garden, what about high school football or basketball games? What about Huntington Beach on Memorial Day or 4th of July? I’ve been on a lot of cruises and yes it’s confined. But no different than a busy restaurant, movie theater or pool/spa at a nice resort. I spent 49 days earlier this year from Ft Lauderdale to Los Angeles and wouldn’t change that experience. If you want to be alone or only around a few people, it can be done. The only place you cannot get a away from the crowd is in the ELEVATORS, especially at key times. BUT that sounds to me like New York City – thousands of elevators, then to crowded lobbies, streets and mass transit. Maybe we just need to all the large cities. It doesn’t seem much different than the cruise ship!

  30. Sue|

    I completely agree with you! I am a former travel agent, and I love cruising. I also think that cruise ships, in general, do an amazing job of cleanliness. However, my daughter and I were on a cruise the first week of March, just as things started really getting bad. I was aware of the Diamond Princess situation before we left, but that was across the world, right? But things got a bit scary towards the end of that week. All I could think about was being quarantined on a ship with hundreds of sick people! It will take me a while to feel comfortable sailing again. I’m not saying I won’t do it, and not blaming the ships, but I do not want to be stuck at sea.

  31. Diane Garrison|

    I disembarked on March 15-came back to closed stores and no toilet paper. I felt better on the ship than on land. Everyone was quietly asked questions before boarding and their temperature was taken-we know now that that will not prevent the asymptomatic person that you could encounter at the grocery store. On board sanitizers everywhere, crew constantly wiping down railings, walls,chairs, bars. Everyone was aware of giving everyone space. I did not hear one person cough or sneeze. What can I say? I had a fabulous experience and then disembarked to porters and custom officials that could have just visited a sick relative. I hope to cruise June 27–if I can, I will.
    Remember, 80% do not know they have it, 20% get very sick and 2% die. Be safe and do what you are comfortable with.

  32. Dianne aiyenzio|

    We were scheduled to leave on carnival from Miami on the 18th
    They finally cancelled but trying to get my money from the Barclays carnival card
    Hours on ohone 3 times and disconnected
    Only said final payment was there fir credit when I asked about deposit and insurance it was click so I will wait til Kate tonight and try
    Are we able to get the insurance bsck ???
    Thank you Dianne Autenzio

    1. Johnny Jet|

      If the cruise canceled they should be giving you the money directly

  33. Robin P|

    We had big plans this summer to do a cruise from Montreal to Boston, then a trip to NY city and Detroit for an International Convention. The convention was cancelled by the organizers, and we cancelled the cruise and hotels. Luckily I hadn’t bought airline tickets yet. From what I understand, the only item that will not be refunded is the cruise deposit. Of course we are very disappointed as this was long time planned and saved for, but our health is much more important. I have no intention of booking another cruise until this virus is eradicated or a vaccine is available.

  34. Marcia|

    Just as I flew soon after 9/11, I think the cruise industry is going to be safest after the closedown Is lifted. I would be more hesitant about the end of the year, when the ships have been running constantly and the virus may be booming again.

  35. Barbara|

    My late husband and I loved to cruise and after his passing I continued to cruise. I even became a travel consultant 6 years ago. But right now I have been discussing, not just cruising, but travel in general with my clients.

    I follow a lot of medical sites due to a medical condition that I have. These are mostly research sites but still will have information on current situations.

    Many of my clients fall in to at least one of the high risk groups. When we talk about rebooking cruises that were cancelled or booking future travel my first advice to them is discuss this with their doctor. Then I share with them my personal thoughts based on all of my reading. When things open back up I would still steer clear of flying or cruising until we have either a vaccine or rapid ways to treat and cure the virus. This is due to the way the Covid19 virus spreads. The 6 foot distancing should be more along the lines of 9 feet and there is the lack time between exposure and symptoms showing up that a person can spread this to a lot of people. So in confined areas it places way to many people in harms way. Most agree with me.

    For me I am thinking of doing most of my vacations by driving to some of the beautiful areas close to me. Some have quaint little hotels in the area and unique restaurants. So I can support businesses who have been hurt by all of this and still get a real vacation.

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