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Vaccinated travel has vacationers quickly seeking options

Vaccinated travel has vacationers quickly seeking options

Although the CDC has yet to announce that vaccinated Americans are safe traveling or that Americans reentering the United States can forgo the current requirement of a 72-hour prior COVID-19 negative test, bookings for U.S. and international travel are rapidly increasing.

Online searches for ‘vaccinated travel’ are up more than 700 percent, according to a reputable source. It is definitely an interesting time to be in the travel industry, said Accent on Travel owner and world travel expert Annette Nero Stellhorn.

Flight pricing for U.S. destinations and those countries Americans can enter without quarantining have doubled and even tripled in the past few weeks as more vaccines get distributed and recipients go online to search for potential vacations.

Home rentals in the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica and other countries allowing international travelers are scarce for this year and already booking for next year. Dude ranches and destination wedding venues have little to no space left, as family vacations and weddings from 12 months of postponed travel get rebooked.

“The big news is that cruising for Americans has begun. Cruising had started months ago in the Asian and European markets. As an example, RCI Group (Celebrity, Silversea, Royal Caribbean) had 150 sailings in these markets reporting over 100,000 passengers in total with just 10 people testing positive for COVID-19 using pandemic protocols and consistent onboard testing. These sailings took place prior to any vaccination protection even entering into the equation. River cruise companies such as AMA Waterways and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises have planned launches in Europe (for European citizens) in May and hope they can open to Americans mid-to-late summer. We are seeing cruise lines requiring all staff to be vaccinated and some, like Crystal Cruise Lines, will require all passengers to be vaccinated as well,” said Stellhorn.

”Right now, five of Accent on Travel’s 40 cruise line portfolio are currently planning on sailing sometime March through July with American guests, and the Accent on Travel team is taking reservations now. The U.S.-based American Cruise Line and American Steamboat Company both resumed sailings in March on U.S. rivers. Ocean cruise lines are designing new itineraries that adhere to CDC protocols of 7-day sailing maximums. Celebrity Cruises, a midsize ship cruise line offering premium and luxury cruising, is sailing for the first time in June, July and August from St. Maarten round trip visiting Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, BVIs, St. Lucia and Barbados. We are booking double 7-day cruises so our clients can stay on 14 days just to get out on an extended vacation. And we are seeing even triple reservations for Crystal Cruises, a luxury small ship, starting up in July for 7 days visiting the lesser Bahama islands so passengers can stay onboard for 21 days. The details of the port stops have not yet been confirmed, but we are hearing talks of all excursions being included or required through the cruise ship. All of them will have crew and passenger protocols for embarkation, ports of call and onboard experiences that everyone must adhere to.

“It is interesting to find that the ships are sailing with higher passenger experience ratings than pre-COVID, which means vacationers are thrilled with the experience the cruise lines have put together. All Americans are currently required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to reenter the U.S., and the cruise lines are providing free COVID-19 testing onboard anyway. The cruise industry is really doing everything possible to make cruising even safer than your home community,” Stellhorn said.

Accent on Travel team members are thrilled to see the world safely reopening. Iceland and Ecuador are the first countries to use a completed vaccination card for entrance without quarantine, and many more will follow.

Stellhorn said once the U.S. decides to use the completed vaccination card as one of the reentry options for Americans, people may hear suitcases being unzipped around the country. Of course, there is an understandable pause for many would-be travelers, and in that case, Stellhorn said she would suggest considering what the situation will be like at the time of considered travel rather than currently.

Stellhorn highly suggests using a travel planning company certified through the American Society of Travel Advisors, buying travel insurance to protect one’s investment and oneself while traveling, and getting excited about travel once again.

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