LONG BEACH, Calif. — So much history lies behind the windows of the legendary Queen Mary. It’s also where North Hollywood resident Deanna Kurman has spent her last six anniversaries.
“It really does feel like you’re on vacation, even just being in that hotel. You can pretend you’re in a different era, a different world," Kurman said.
That’s really what she loves about cruises in general.
So, at least once a year she and her fiancé take a trip across the ocean.
“We would show up in a different city in the morning, hop off and explore," she said. "You come back, all your things are in the room, so you don’t have to move anything. And you have fantastic dining and entertainment and the drinks are wonderful too!” she said.
In 2020, Kurman was hoping to set sail to Russia, until the pandemic halted the cruise industry.
“We just were not feeling comfortable, so eventually we did get our money back,” she said.
The pandemic has been the largest crisis faced by the cruise industry to date. As of September 2020, it was estimated the industry had lost $50 billion.
Now, over a year later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has finally given cruise lines the OK to return to sea this summer.
Kurman's feelings are tangled, saying, “On the one hand, it makes me uneasy to be in a enclosed space with so many people, but at the same time I can't imagine any other industry that’s more ready to keep an environment clean than cruise ships.”
Still, she’s holding off her next cruise until 2023, but cruise planners say other travelers are already booking trips for as early as late July.
Cruise lines are going overboard to earn back the confidence of passengers, meaning there will be some changes.
Most ships are requiring staff and passengers to be fully vaccinated, in addition to COVID-19 testing on board.
Also, start waving goodbye to buffets. Many cruises, like Princess, are going contactless. They're using apps that allow passengers to do everything from order food, check in to their cabin and make reservations for activities.
In July of last year, cruises resumed operations in parts of Europe and Asia.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association, they’ve been able to successfully mitigate the risk of COVID-19 among passengers and crew members.
The industry is hoping for the same success in the U.S. with high expectations for its 2021 season.
The association expects 81% of cruisers to cruise again and 60% of non-cruisers are said to be open to a cruise.