Will we ever be able to cruise or fly safely again?

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Just to let you know, travel agents are still working, talking to clients, calling cruise lines, airlines and tour companies - but not to book. They are canceling.

Fortunately, clients are not losing money. They either get a full refund or a future cruise credit good for a new booking up to two years and, in most cases, an added incentive.

Once a vaccine is found for this coronavirus, travel will pick up again. Travelers should begin booking now for 2021 and 2022 at mostly reduced costs.

The cruise industry has never previously experienced a complete cessation of cruising operations. But key industry players are anticipating growth in the coming years. "The industry is going to return and is going to be stronger than ever," said Drew Daly, senior vice president of Dream Vacations, a subsidiary of World Travel Holdings, the largest cruise agency in the U.S. "We are seeing people booking for 2021 and, based on the same time last year, we're seeing greater growth."

Analysts at UBS, a global financial advising firm, say bookings for 2021 cruises are up 9% over a recent 30-day period when compared with the same time last year.

For many travelers, the health risks of cruising will be an important consideration when deciding whether to book a trip.

The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program provides a level of federal scrutiny and transparency for cruise line sanitation that's unique in the travel and hospitality industry. When cruising resumes, all guests and crew will participate in mandatory health screening that will include checking temperatures at embarkation, monitoring and doing more frequent sanitation of all frequently touched surfaces, from tables and chairs to casino chips and fitness machines.

Cleaning crews will use hospital grade disinfectant solutions in all public areas and all staterooms. Enhanced protocols will include additional sanitation and cleaning.

The cruise industry will sail again, though perhaps not to Asia and Europe the first year. But there is lots to see in the United States and Canada - from the Mississippi river cruises to Alaska to New England and, of course, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Airlines have acted in accordance with both the CDC and the State Department while keeping the health and safety of fliers in mind. Jet Blue became the first major airline to announce changes - requiring all passengers and crew to wear face masks.

Delta and American made similar announcements that as of May 4, masks are to be worn or passengers will be denied boarding. Bill Lentsch, Delta's Chief Customer Experience Officer, said in a statement, "While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the CDC guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection. We believe this change will give customers and employees some additional comfort when traveling with us."

Aircraft are cleaned throughout the day with an EPA-approved disinfectant. United Airlines has their flight attendants wearing gloves during food and beverage service and pick up in all cabins.

It's also interesting is that the TSA is now allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 oz. in carry-on bags until further notice.

Let's hope a vaccine is soon available, and then our previous lives can resume.

Joan Flynn is an independent contractor with Valerie Wilson Travel. Joan.flynn@vwti.com

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