If you’re thinking about taking a trip this year, there’s one mode of travel that you should steer clear of, according to money expert Clark Howard.
For many years now, Clark has been a fan of cruises, but in 2022 he wants you to think long and hard before booking one.
Thinking About Booking a Cruise This Year? Read This First
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the travel industry in general, but especially on cruises.
Clark says that while cruise ships have enjoyed stronger numbers for 2022, COVID is making for rough seas once again.
“Now with what’s going on with omicron, the experience passengers are having on cruise ships has deteriorated mightily.”
As it stands now, when sailing with the three major cruise line parent companies, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), adult passengers have to abide by the following safety protocols:
- Show proof of being fully vaccinated.
- Wear masks indoors aboard the ship and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
- Know that, if you test positive before boarding, you will not be able to cruise. Carnival says it will issue you a cruise credit. Royal Caribbean says you will get a 100% refund. NCL says it will mainly issue future cruise credits.
There’s also the issue of being denied entry to certain countries, according to Clark. “A lot of ports are saying, ‘You can’t stop here,’ and so these cruises end up being multiple days at sea.”
What if You’ve Already Booked a Cruise?
If you’re already booked on a cruise, here are some tips from Clark.
Be Prepared for Last-Minute Cancellations
In some cases, the cruise lines have been canceling cruises the day people arrive to board the ships, Clark says.
Not only is this inconvenient, but in some cases, you could be out of a lot of money especially if you took a plane to get to the ship.
“The reality is you can travel to get there and they say, ‘No cruise for you,’ and when you find out is when you get there,” Clark says. “And that is terrible because you may have taken time off from work or the kids may have a break that week or whatever it is. And this trip you’ve planned suddenly — Bam! — is gone.”
Have a Backup Plan
Clark has booked a cruise for later this year, but he’s prepared for a scenario in which the cruise line cancels the voyage.
“Always have a backup plan,” he says. “If the cruise cancels on us, we’ve already come up with Plan B. We’re going to do a beach trip for a week.”
To get his money back, Clark says he’ll be ready to deal with the cruise line if there’s an issue.
With so much pandemic-related flux going on in the cruise industry right now, Clark says you may want to consider delaying your plans to take a cruise by several months — or more:
“It may make you think, ‘You know what? Maybe I am a ’23 cruise passenger instead of a ’22. Maybe I’m a ’24 instead of a ’22.”
Want extra protection for your travels? Here’s what to know about trip insurance.