EU's travel restriction recommendation creates confusion for cruise lines, agents

Cruise lines and travel advisors have been busy this week fielding concerns from customers booked on sailings in Europe, after the European Union made confusing statements about re-imposing restrictions on U.S. travelers. 

U.S. cruise lines operating in Europe are not expected to be widely impacted because any forthcoming restrictions are expected to apply to unvaccinated travelers only. All cruise lines already are requiring passengers who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine to be inoculated. Many lines are requiring that all passengers be vaccinated.

But the simple news that the EU was removing the U.S from its safe travel list caused uncertainty.

Cruise Planners CEO Michelle Fee said, “At this time, confusion abounds when it comes to any form of travel, which we feel is a strength for the travel advisor. Currently, unvaccinated travelers just need to show a negative test, and it’s yet to be seen what this means for cruises long term, but since vaccinations and a negative test result are required already, it may not be any significant change.” 

Signature Travel Network CEO Alex Sharpe said, “This EU announcement continues to create confusion and waves. We just keep over-communicating the facts and not the headlines to members. … So far, questions mostly. Cancellations potentially from nonvaccinated folks, but hopefully, they just decide to get vaccinated and go.”

Sharpe said that Signature invested in Sherpa, the online travel requirements guide, for all 11,000 of its advisors. He said Sherpa has “done a really good job of keeping up with the changes.”

“Most advisors create the links and send them to their clients, which they can go back to multiple times, which saves some calls,” he said. 

Of the major U.S. cruise lines sailing in Europe right now, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Celebrity, Crystal, Silversea, Viking and Seabourn all require that 100% of passengers be vaccinated. Royal Caribbean requires that anyone 18 years and older be vaccinated for its Europe sailings.

Almost all river cruise lines have vaccination mandates in place.  

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