Travels with Bob

As the World Reopens to Tourists

Cruise Ships Still Not Permitted to Sail from U.S. Ports

Greece opens to tourists in mid-May, while the new Celebrity Apex begins 8-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries from Athens this summer.

More than 30 countries around the world are welcoming tourists again and the European Union anticipates opening to fully-vaccinated tourists this summer despite mixed messages from the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) and travel warnings from the State Department.

Many domestic and international air routes, hotels and all-inclusive resorts following health and safety protocols have resumed for fully-vaccinated travelers. Meanwhile, cruise ships remain tied to the dock in American ports awaiting the end of the CDC cruising ban imposed a year ago. In fact, the only sounds about cruising emanating from the CDC since last October is the sound of crickets.

Some 400,000 people have cruised from foreign cruise ports since December with a mere 10 COVID-19 cases being detected, treated and contained onboard without disrupting the vacations of other guests aboard.

In response to inaction by the CDC, major cruise lines have established new Caribbean homeports in the Bahamas, St. Martin and Antigua and will offer five to seven-night Caribbean cruises this summer for fully-vaccinated cruisers testing negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding. Furthermore, the State of Florida with five cruise homeports recently sued the CDC to take action to restore the million-plus jobs currently shutdown.

One cruise line executive recently told me “. . . (we) expect to offer a great vacation experience in an environment as safe or safer than a trip to the grocery store.” Hopefully, the successful implementation of this bold move by the cruise industry will motivate the CDC to act by lifting the ban in the weeks or months ahead, especially for fully-vaccinated adults and their children.

With travel conditions, restrictions and protocols remaining a moving target at many destinations, I recently acquired a new tool designed to access up-to-date country-specific entry requirements. SHERPA is an independent database updated daily with timelier information than what’s found on most government sites. While I cannot advise you whether it’s safe to travel, the information gleaned from SHERPA will help clients make better informed decisions.

A recent survey revealed that three-quarters of adult Americans are ready to travel as soon as they are vaccinated. But please keep in mind such decisions are personal and differ from individual to individual based on many factors.

In the post-pandemic world, do-it-yourself travel planning clearly has become difficult, if not impossible, so seeking professional assistance has become a must even for domestic travel. In the near term, I expect more travelers to pursue uncrowded vacation locales ― smaller cities and remote locations that take them closer to nature and outdoor activities. I also see an uptick in small-group escorted tours and multi-generation families traveling for land vacations or small ship cruising. More than a dozen new ships will debut later this year and in 2022, including several small “exploration” ships.

Smaller exploration ships, usually accommodating fewer than 200 guests, can cruise into remote regions where big ships simply can’t go. Most of the latest exploration ships offer an upscale/luxury cruising experience perfect for travelers seeking adventure.

So, where can I travel this summer or fall? I am getting calls almost daily from people looking to travel later
this year or early in 2022. Here are a few recommendations to consider —

Caribbean All-Inclusive Resorts—Cancun and Jamaica responded quickly to implement health and
safety protocols for vacationers. I particularly recommend the resorts located in the hotel zones of both
countries. I spent a week in a Cancun resort in early March and the protocols did not negatively impact
my time there. Other Caribbean resorts are now open in Turks & Caicos, Antigua and Aruba.

Caribbean Cruises—Six cruise lines will offer cruises from new home ports this summer and fall.
Please call me for details.

Costa Rica—I also recommend the resorts and diverse ecology found in the northwest region of the
country. Prices usually increase in mid-November following the rainy season, but you will still enjoy a
vacation there in early fall. A special trip insurance policy is required.

Greece & Croatia—Both countries reopen to tourists in mid-May and offer a variety of cruise and land
tour options. The Greek Islands are great destinations but my next trip to Greece will be to explore
6,000 years of history found in ancient towns and sites on the mainland beyond Athens.

Kenya —Has been open for premium and luxury safaris since last September. Most are small group
tours originating from Nairobi.

Hawaii—Offers both multi-island tours and weekly 7-night, four-island cruises from Honolulu.

Private homes and Villas, as well as U.S. national parks—May be good options for multi-generational
family groups but keep in mind that year-end holiday periods sell out quickly.

As world reopens and cruising hopefully resumes soon, I am increasingly eager to explore and experience
the world again. When you are ready to travel, I will be here to help you do the same.