If you are considering a cruise for 2020 or 2021 you may be wondering if wearing a face mask will be mandatory onboard. Cruise lines have started to release guidelines when it comes to social distancing and in this article we explore to what extent mask wearing will affect your future cruises.
Will I Need to Wear a Face Mask on a Cruise?
At present there are no cruise lines which have announced mandatory wearing of face masks. It may be the case that mask wearing is highly suggested, especially at busy times such as embarkation but as of yet there are no official rules which say that this is the case.
That said, mask wearing is likely to be a big part of the cruise experience for many people, at least in the short term. Many people are very against argue that, if it’s not safe enough to cruise without a mask, it isn’t safe enough to cruise.
You May Have to Wear Mask When Social Distancing is Difficult
There are certain times on a cruise where social distancing is just not possible. On embarkation day thousands of passengers have to pass through a cruise terminal in a relatively small period of time and this often means that big groups end up forming. The same can be said for the muster drill where all passengers must take part. To learn more about a muster drill, and why it’s a legal requirement that you attend, read the post here: What is a Muster Drill on a Cruise? Everything You Need to Know.
Face masks have been made mandatory across many parts of the world, here in the UK it is mandatory to wear face masks on public transport and highly encouraged in other places.
Mandatory Face Mask Wearing
It may be possible for cruise lines to make it mandatory for face masks to be worn at certain times. There are many airlines that have made face masks mandatory and it isn’t unrealistic to think that cruise lines could do the same. Many airlines have made it mandatory to wear a face mask when in the airport building, boarding the plane, during the flight and when leaving the airport.
It wouldn’t be practical for passengers to wear a mask for the entire cruise because of the long period of time but wearing a mask for an hour or two at embarkation and muster would be more achievable. Excursions are another situation where cruisers are often together in big groups, some lines have talked about reducing the capacity of excursions but this may or may not happen.
Would you have to bring your own face mask?
It’s fairly safe to assume that passengers would be expected to bring their own masks on a cruise. That said Royal Caribbean did recently file for a patent for a product called a ‘seaface’ which is a mask which we can assume would be worn onboard.
It only cost Royal Caribbean $350 to file for this patent so the fact that they have filed for it doesn’t mean that they necessarily are going to use it. Many companies and cruise lines file patents for ideas that don’t get used but it does show that cruise lines are thinking about the possibility of guests having to wear masks.
The Crew May be Wearing Masks
Going forward we can expect to see crew members wearing masks. Especially those who work in the kitchens/waiters or in the beauty/spa areas.
River cruises are starting to restart in Europe and river cruise line Arosa have released guidelines about what to expect onboard. The video shows staff wearing masks and states that all staff onboard will be wearing masks. Despite this the video says that the crew members will be smiling, even if you can’t see it through the mask.
This certainly will take a bit of getting used to but it does make sense for front facing crew. It could make an already very difficult job harder though. Cruise ship crew often work long days for long periods of time and expecting the staff to wear a mask for this long is a big thing to ask. It may be the case that crew only have to wear masks when front facing.
Will This be Strange?!
Many cruisers have said that they don’t like the idea of having the crew wearing masks because it makes it feel much more sterile and much less friendly. I suppose that this is the case but it is for a reason. The crew have to put safety of their guests above being overly friendly towards them.
You May Often be Encouraged to Wear a Mask
The cruise line are going to follow the social norms of whatever is done at the time of sailing. If the majority of people on land are wearing a mask then most people onboard the cruise ship probably will.
There are certain times and places on a cruise ship where masks won’t be needed such as the top deck. Nobody wants to sunbathe with a mask on and in theory there should be enough room for guests to spread out. You’d have quite a funny suntan if you did sunbathe wearing a mask!!
Washing of Masks
Generally speaking it is advised to wash masks between every use. This would be very difficult on a cruise so guests would either have to bring a lot of masks or find a way to wash them affectively. It’s unlikely that a quick wash in the sink would be good enough and the laundries aren’t set up to wash things like face masks. Disposable face masks may be an option but the majority of people seem to prefer higher quality reusable masks.
Some People Can’t Wear Masks
For medical reasons some people cannot wear masks and this is another reason why I don’t think that wearing masks will be mandatory. Many members of our Facebook Group have mentioned having headaches after wearing masks for long periods of time so wouldn’t want to on a cruise.
Would Children Have to Wear Masks?
Probably! On most airlines children over 6 have to wear masks if adults do. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to try and get a 6 year old child to wear a mask on a a cruise! If mask wearing is mandatory at any time this may put off the family market more than others. The cruise lines of course do not want this, but the safety of guests is always the priority .
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