HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The cruise line industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.
The CDC has recently eased the no-sail order that was put into effect last March, but the new rules are very strict.
News 3 spoke to Tony Barnette, who is based out of Florida.
He and his wife Jenny love to cruise and have gone on 13 trips in the past three years prior to COVID-19.
Working as a content creator, Barnette said they started the company La Lido Loca Group Cruise a few years ago.
“I traveled to Cuba, been to Asia. I was in Asia two months before this whole thing happened,” said Barnette. “Cruising is really taking me around the world.”
COVID has hurt the travel business, especially the cruise line industry.
Barnette's wife books trips for people and he hosts a daily YouTube show called "La Lido Loca" with the latest news in the cruising industry.
He said he is glad the restrictions have been eased.
“It’s a big deal for cruising. Of course, the businesses want to get started and then there’s a lot of people that I put money down on cruises that keep getting canceled, rescheduled, pushed forward, and now, at some point, cruising will resume again.”
Cruises will resume under new strict rules.
The CDC has called for mock voyages with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test the ship’s ability to handle the new COVID-19 restrictions, and they must also get certified.
“They have to prove to the government that they can cruise safely and do that without getting paid. It’s going to be another few months of burning through money without any revenue coming in. It’s probably been super tough for them," Barnette said about the cruise line industry.
Officials said there will be strict rules about leaving the ship, extreme cleaning and 100% COVID-19 testing of passengers and crew members.
Barnette believes it is safer on a cruise ship now more than ever.
“Everybody has to be tested before they get on the cruise ship. I don’t know anywhere else where you can go and everybody that you’re in contact with has had a negative COVID test,” said Barnette. “They do have to jump through a lot of hoops to get sailing again, but the hoops are necessary for the safety of the passengers.”
Experts say it will take a few months before we see the next voyages.
“This is an exciting time because at some point - probably next year - but some point they’ll be able to return to the cruise ships, which I think is exciting,” said Barnette.
Click here to visit the La Lido Loca Group Cruise YouTube Channel with Tony Barnette.
Click here for more information from the CDC.