Yes, there's still time for you to book that cruise for Spring Break 2022. With a later-than-usual Easter, the entire Spring Break period is longer than usual, extending into mid-April.
The itineraries that are perfect for Spring Break — cruises that visit the Caribbean, The Bahamas and the Mexican Riviera – are all up for grabs. Just a few weeks ago, Cruise Critic found Spring Break deals that were under $1,500 for a family of four (and for the latest and best cruise prices, visit our Cruise Deals page).
Whether you have a cruise booked for Spring Break 2022 already or you're still considering it, you're probably wondering how cruising is different right now, how it's better (or worse), and what to expect. Here's what you need to know if you're cruising for Spring Break in 2022.
Cruise Ships Have Lower Occupancy (and Fewer Kids)
Cruise lines tend to keep exact occupancy rates for sailings close to the vest, yet we all know that crowds have subsided in a big way. Not only are ships reserving empty cabins for guests who need to quarantine, but a quick search of available cruises shows open cabins at every price point.
What does this mean for Spring Break? For the most part, it means you'll have more space all over the ship, whether you prefer to relax on the pool decks, enjoy a cocktail in your favorite piano lounge, or gamble in the casino. You'll still have access to most of the same features and amenities, but without all the lines.
The difference may be especially noticeable if you're someone who is hoping for (or against) plenty of kids on your sailing. That's because cruise lines have largely required vaccination for eligible guests, with most North American itineraries requiring vaccination for those ages 12 and older.
Kids under that age may not have to be vaccinated to travel. However, traveling with a non-vaccinated child may limit shore excursions options to those offered through the ship.
Families who are not ready to vaccinate are more likely to skip cruising for now until protocols change.
Stellar Deals for Families Are Out There
Lower occupancy and more uncertainty among cruise lines means one thing for potential cruisers this spring break — cheaper cruise deals and more perks. If you're flexible on your cruise line and your itinerary especially, the spring break deals for 2022 can be out of this world.
As always, MSC Cruises and Carnival are leading the pack when it comes to deals. Thanks to MSC Cruises’ Kids Sail Free offer (for kids under age 12), for example, you can book a seven-night cruise out of Miami on MSC Divina for $1,436 (plus taxes and fees) with a departure date of March 6, 2022.
Not only does this rate include all your food and fun, but your floating hotel will take you to stops like Cozumel, Mexico, Ochos Rios, Jamaica, and Ocean Cay, MSC Cruises' private island in the Bahamas. Better yet, this cruise comes with free drinks and WiFi, which makes it even easier to save on your trip.
If you wanted to swap the free drinks and WiFi for a balcony upgrade instead, you could even cruise for as little as $898 plus taxes and fees instead.
That's actually a crazy deal for a 7-night cruise when you consider your hotel and all your meals will only set you back $128 per night (plus taxes and fees).
Hoping for something a little shorter? In that case, you can book a six-night cruise out of Miami on Carnival Freedom.
With a departure date of March 20th, this cruise would take you to Eastern Caribbean stops such as Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The total cost for this cruise for a family with two kids works out to $1,855 (plus taxes and fees) for an interior cabin.
Cruise Lines Are Relaxing The Strictest Omicron Protocols
Cruise line protocols have been some of the most strict and serious among any other industry, and especially within the travel industry. The fact is, cruise lines took endless measures to help protect the safety and well-being of all passengers, including enhanced sanitation and cleaning, installing advanced ventilation on their ships, and required vaccination.
While these steps have kept the cruise industry in operation, it does seem some cruise lines may be lifting some of their strictest COVID-19 protocols for guests with the potential for more changes on the way as the omicron variant surge decreases in the U.S .
For example, Norwegian Cruise Line recently updated their protocols so that unvaccinated children under the age of 5 could cruise with their families, whereas they were unable to cruise with the line before.
The cruise line also announced plans to loosen mask mandates for vaccinated passengers, while still keeping pre-cruising testing requirements. Specifically, masks on board will become optional starting on March 1st, and guests will no longer be required to take a COVID-19 test at the port. However, guests will still need to provide proof of a negative antigen or PCR test from within two days prior to boarding at U.S. ports.
Port Changes Still Occur; Best to Be Flexible
If you plan to cruise this spring and potentially this summer, you will want to try to be as flexible as you can. There's a decent chance your ship could change at least one of your ports, or that a port on your itinerary will be replaced with another sea day.
Any cruiser with a planned stop in the Cayman Islands already knows this game. After all, this destination has been added to and dropped from too many itineraries to count. Cruise lines are currently in talks with officials on restarting cruises to Grand Cayman, but it remains to be seen when this will happen.
During the height of the omicron surge, several ships were unexpectedly turned away from ports in Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire and other destinations. While Spring Break is far enough away and case numbers are going down, it's best to brace yourself for port changes, just in case. Choose a ship with enough amenities where you and your family or travel companions will know you will have a great time, no matter where you stop.
The Bottom Line on Spring Break Cruises 2022
What will Spring Break cruising this 2022 season actually look like? For the most part, it will look like it always has, albeit with a few precautions and possible hiccups. Plus, any trade-offs you make may be well worth it due better pricing and smaller crowds.
Maybe your cruise won't go exactly as planned, but your trip can still be affordable and fun. And really, that's why most of us cruise in the first place.