Cruising into 2022 - January 13, 2022
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New Year Brings New Hope/Challenges

Well here we go into 2022 with high hopes of it being better than '21.
I have started this intro to our newsletter several times in 21 and erased them all.   It seemed every time things where getting back to normal something new would pop up.  Well, welcome to Omicron! And my feeling now, like many others, is to hell with it- we need to start learning to live with it like we have with the flu of the 80s and 90s.
What I have learned over the past 6 months is many people in our industry, from any side you want to consider, need to have actual face to face contact.  From June at the IRF event on Marco Island to our annual Christmas party I have never had people so happy to be together, many after a 2 year absence.  We are a social industry who cherish our relationships and Zoom has run its course with this group!
On June 26th Diana and I took our first cruise since Diana brought in the last chartered cruise ship back to Ft Lauderdale March 14, 2020.  It was only fitting that we were on the first ship to resume cruising on Celebrity’s Edge. Since then we have been on 8 more cruises. What we found on those 8 cruise, most of which were full revenue cruises versus trade cruises, was that passengers and crew alike were in tears in many case with the joy of traveling or working again.  We heard no bitching when we were turned away from ports, had to be tested numerous times during a cruise, and had to adjust to ever changing rules and regulations of not only various governments but the ship to comply.  It showed us people loved to travel buy maybe, just maybe they loved to cruise more so than anything.
So over the holidays the CDC tells us it’s unsafe to cruise again.  So they can’t control it on land but think they can control it on a ship.  They had better think again because cruises have always been safer than most other travel options or your local grocery store.  Let’s look at some real numbers from Royal Caribbean;
“Since cruising restarted in the U.S. in June 2021, the Royal Caribbean Group has carried 1.1 million guests with 1,745 people testing positive – a positivity rate of 0.02%.  Furthermore, the vast majority of those cases had no symptoms or only mild symptoms, with only 41 people needing hospitalization. None of the Omicron cases have been severe or needed to be taken to a hospital. These figures are a result of almost everyone onboard having been vaccinated and having a negative test before boarding.”
These figure were released Thursday December 31 so the new Omicron numbers are in this figure.
Richard Fain CEO of the Royal Group went on to say;
“We don't like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry. Few businesses are subject to such intense scrutiny, regulation, and disclosure requirements by so many authorities, and we welcome that scrutiny because of our commitment to safety. We intend to maintain our goal of delivering the safest vacation on land or sea and will constantly adjust our procedures to accomplish this even in the face of Omicron's amazing transmissibility."
I am of the opinion STILL that being on a cruise ship is one of the safest and fun places to still be on this planet.  With over 242 cruise ships sailing today I am sure our not so friendly biased media would be all over the industry with reports of out breaks all over the world.  But they are not and that’s why you will be receiving at least 5 new ship reviews in the near future.  So stay tuned!           

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the Senate hearing on Tuesday that the cruise industry has stepped up. "I think the Conditional Sail Order and the fact the industry has stepped up and is now interested in exceeding the compliance with the Sail Order without the order necessarily being in place is a real testimonial to how well that has worked." 
This was new the morning that I was finalizing the newsletter, to attest to Steve having to rewrite his piece a hundred times but I felt it was important to add. Let these words sink in IS EXCEEDING THE COMPLIANCE...WITHOUT THE ORDER BEING IN PLACE. Exceeding. That's a big word, its not meeting the expectations its not doing bare minimum to get by. The cruise industry is going above and beyond to ensure a SAFE environment. We have been saying this for months, but to see the CDC acknowledge this is huge. Hopefully the media will catch on and report on this as well. 

Atlas World Navigator
We had the opportunity in late September to sail on Atlas’s first and only ship at this stage for seven days. First of AOV is a new cruise line but with a very experienced parent that includes Mystic Cruises which owns and operates most of the cruises on the Duro River.  [...]
Read Review
Virgin Scarlet Lady
Virgin Voyages has had the roughest 2 years as any cruise line. Set to beginning cruising in March 2020 they had to delay their start until August 2021 in the UK. In the meantime construction keep on go going on 2 additional sister ships that are sitting and ready to go [...]
Read Review
Odyssey of the Seas
While this was not an inaugural event but the naming of the Odyssey it was certainly an event with excitement and energy. In my personal opinion this is the nicest most elegant Royal Caribbean ship they have come out with[...]
Read Review

With cruise lines adjusting budgets and inventory over the past two years it would be understandable to see the numbers be down on new builds, but lucky for us that is not the case. A total of 25 new ships are set to be released in 2022! That is great news for the industry and we can't wait to see what great new products we have to share with you. 

"It Is What It Is" 
Surpassing complacency and thriving during this new era

Recently when we were in Barcelona at the IBTM tradeshow I was sitting on the bus getting a few minutes of email in when I overheard a conversation behind me between two strangers. The gentleman said “I hate the term ‘it is, what it is’. It breeds complacency and we as an industry have turned to it too much to explain away COVID issues.” That statement really stuck with me. Have we as an industry accepted mediocrity because we aren’t able to do things the way we are used to?
I thought back to my charter a few weeks prior and remember hearing terms like “it is what it is” and “oh we can’t do that because of COVID” during the planning BUT in our case we were met with an extremely motivated team with Holland America who really held the torch and helped present new ways we could implement these old ideas. I wish I could say this has been across the board within the industry, but the reality is it hasn’t. And it’s not just isolated to the cruise industry. You can see if with hotels, restaurants, really any hospitality venue.
It made me think of some of our local restaurants. Like many of you, we have seen lots of them close over the last 18 months, many permanently. But there is one thing that the small restaurants that are surviving, some even thriving, have in common…..ingenuity. They didn’t accept “it is what it is” when they were given new mandates. They thought outside the box and implemented new ideas. One restaurant built outdoor private gazebos and really revamped their to-go options that have been such a huge hit they actually did more business than years prior, another brought in a ghost restaurant that is also operating out of the same kitchen to bring in more revenue now the two team up to offer these amazing holiday spreads you can order in advance. They learned how to roll with the punches and adapt. Something we all need to learn how to do!
In this era there is a lot of change and uncertainty, and the easy thing to do is blame the lack of options on COVID, supply chain issues, staffing issues, etc. But what if we as an industry started to embrace our new normal and capitalize on it? Let it bring out our creativity and show what great unique problem solvers we truly are.

Check out more reviews and news at
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