The update on travel outside the 48 U.S. States
As a travel advisor, I’m getting updates every day, multiple times a day, with what’s going on with travel destinations all over the world. I hesitated to share it with you only because it’s such an evolving situation, and whatever I say now could be different by next week. So please read this knowing that it may or may not be true next week, next month, or even tomorrow, if things suddenly change! But for right now it’s accurate, and I think it might be helpful to know what’s going on. Read on to find out about passports, the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Hawaii, Disney, cruises, and the South Pacific.
The U.S. stopped issuing passports on March 19. I submitted my passport renewal on…March 19. Which means I had no word on my passport status for months. They re-opened on a very limited basis about a month ago, and started working on processing the millions of backlogged passports. I finally received my new passport last week, 5 months after submitting it. If you have a renewal or a new passport you’re submitting, it will take less time than mine did (since they’re now open), but don’t expect a quick turnaround!
The Caribbean is opening to travel. The islands were affected by the virus in a very small way, and they are taking excellent precautions, since most of them are now open to tourists. Jamaica, for example, is requiring a self-declared pre-travel authorization, and testing is only required from four high-risk states (New York, Texas, Florida, & Arizona). There is no quarantine required. Increased sanitization and cleaning are being done, many resorts are limiting numbers of guests, and physical distancing is required, with mask wearing when distancing isn’t possible. There are too many islands to list them all, but most Caribbean islands are happily welcoming visitors to their beautiful shores.
Mexico is also welcoming visitors. I saw an article headline just a couple days ago which read, “Mexico is open. It’s welcoming. And it has become a best seller.” Resorts are limiting the number of visitors they accept, and physical distancing and masks are required and/or encouraged where visitors are closer than six feet apart. Sanitization is plentiful, and people are enjoying the beautiful temperatures and beaches in Mexico.
Unfortunately, Europe is still closed to visitors from the U.S. I will definitely let you know when they’re open, and I’m sure we’ll all see it in the news headlines as well!
Hawaii has been up & down in their precautions, and it still feels pretty unstable. They’ve been requiring a 14-day quarantine of anyone who visits their state. Right now they are scheduled to open without the 14-day quarantine on September 1. However, I see articles every day saying things like, “Hawaii may delay tourism reopening again.” So, take that September opening date as a very FLEXIBLE plan. If you want to head to Hawaii, you may want to book into 2021, just to be sure they’re open again and you won’t have to quarantine after entry.
Disneyland & Disney World
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park are both currently closed, although Downtown Disney is reopening in phases. It hasn’t yet been announced when the parks will re-open. All four Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs are open, and attendance is managed through the Disney Park Pass reservation system, to limit capacity in the park. The Disney World Resorts area all open, with enhanced health and safety measures in place. Disney Cruise Line is scheduled to begin departures Nov. 1. Disney cast members are wearing their own Disney-style mask.
Cruise lines are a moving target, as to exact opening cruise dates. Originally they were ready to begin sailing in June, then it was put off until July, and now the earliest cruises are scheduled to start operating on October 1. Some cruises have been canceled through the end of the year, such as European ones. I’ll keep you in the loop when they open. In the meantime, cruise lines are making preparations for re-opening. Some have sold some of their smaller or older ships. They are planning to operate ships with a limited passenger capacity, reducing restaurant capacity, adding showtimes and entertainment times, staggering embarkation and check-in times, and changing the muster safety protocols after boarding the ship. I’m sure we will hear more about the new face of cruising once they actually start sailing again.
Tahiti is open to all international visitors! Visitors need to submit proof of a negative Covid test within 3 days prior to travel, and be willing to self-test 4 days after arrival in Tahiti and her islands. Mask wearing is mandatory in close conditions, and groups should be smaller than 50 in public locations. Australia’s and New Zealand’s borders are still closed to international travelers.
Peace of mind: I have clients who are booking trips for the end of 2020 and well into 2021. I always recommend that they include travel insurance, just in case things don’t work out the way they wanted. That way they won’t lose anything by having to reschedule (if necessary).
Fun & interesting testing procedures
I recently read about three Covid testing procedures with a unique twist. The Velas Resorts in Mexico are having arriving guests smell three sachets with coffee, garlic, and citrus scents, and asked to identify them. Despite people having various symptoms with Covid, loss of smell seems to be universal. The Cayman Islands require visitors to use an inconspicuous wearable device during their stay that will track vital symptoms like temperature. And the United Arab Emirates is using dogs across UAE airports to do quick and simple smell tests on arriving passengers. (There is no contact between passengers and dogs.) I think all three of those are fabulous ways to get us traveling safely again!
I have faith that travel outside the U.S. will become better and easier! Contact me if you have any travel questions at all, or to book that next amazing vacation.