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What’s it like to go on a cruise now? Here’s how COVID-19 has changed the onboard experience

What’s it like to go on a cruise now? Here’s how COVID-19 has changed the onboard experience

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Carnival Cruise Line's new ship Mardi Gras made its debut last summer at Port Canaveral. Carnival, the world's largest cruise company, reported that bookings for the second half of 2022 already surpassed bookings for 2019. (Carnival Cruise Line/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — The cruise industry suffered its biggest financial blow in decades when the COVID-19 pandemic halted most sailings for months and made nervous cruise fans think twice about booking an ocean voyage.

But cruising is back and all signs point to a turn of the tide for the industry: More cruises are scheduled to depart the Port of Los Angeles next year than in 2019.

Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company, reported that bookings for the second half of 2022 already surpassed bookings for 2019. Royal Caribbean cruises for 2022 are nearly at 2019 levels, the company’s chief financial officer, Jason Liberty, said on a recent earnings calls.

Despite the shutdown, the world’s cruise lines have more than 100 new ships on order to set sail by 2027. The Majestic Princess, a ship designed to serve the Chinese market, made its maiden call from the Port of L.A. on Oct. 6. Some 200 cruises are scheduled to depart from there in 2022, up from 120 in 2019.

What are cruise lines requiring of passengers? How have boarding, dining and other activities on board changed? We gathered some information to answer common questions.


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Hint: It is a multilingual, flamingo-flecked, diver’s paradise with no traffic jams (or traffic lights).

The word “undiscovered” is somewhat overused in travel, but Bonaire truly is, particularly outside diving circles. This Dutch Caribbean nation battles the overall perception that there is little diversion on offer beyond underwater frills. Bonaire often sits in the shadow of its more popular island neighbors, Aruba and Curaçao, so much so that even airport immigration agents haven’t heard of it. While visiting the island nation earlier this year, I curiously met countless people who fell in love with Bonaire and ended up relocating to the country, living up to the tourism slogan: Once a visitor, always a friend. I even found myself plotting my return before I left and was compelled to investigate this magnetic pull that many of us felt on the island. In asking people why they were inspired to move to Bonaire, I found 10 reasons they fell in love with the island (and why you might too).

A visit to Hawaii shouldn't be an episode of 'The White Lotus.'

Every destination has its own unwritten rules and way of doing things, and Hawaii (also known as The Aloha State) is no different, even if it is part of the United States. Some of this disconnect is down to the much overused (and often misconstrued) term of Aloha. More than just a word used to express everything from love, affection, peace, and sympathy, it’s a way of life and an honor code that focuses on kindness and respect, and one that’s extended reciprocally. As Hawaii re-opens to the world, coupled with recent Hot Vaxxed Summer antics—harassing endangered species for Instagram selfies, trespassing on state land and having to be airlifted to safety, general disregard for mask mandates—it’s not a bad idea to know what locals and residents consider pono (righteous) behavior, which also double-up as some sure-fire ways to earn their respect and Aloha.  

These breweries really raise the bar. (Sorry.)

“Craft beer” is just that — it’s a “craft.” And creating craft beer is like any other form of art, mixed with science. Certain cities in the U.S. just seem to have a bit of extra creativity when it comes to brewing fantastic beers (maybe creativity, science, and beer drinking go hand in hand?). From Southern California to Central New York and everywhere imaginable in-between, here’s a lineup of some of America’s Best Brewtowns to plan a happy (and hoppy) vacation getaway.  

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