SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Carnival Cruise Line says it just had its best booking week in company history. The recent growth across the cruise industry doesn’t stop there. According to AAA, more than 58 million Americans are considering taking a cruise in the next two years. AAA says cruise bookings in March were double what they were last year.

Things are looking up for the industry after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped its COVID-19 travel warning for cruise ships. The announcement certainly made some folks in Springfield pretty happy.

Sandra Holtcamp with Sunnyland Travel Center says she just booked a cruise to Alaska with her husband Leslie.

“I think it’s really great that [the CDC removed its warning] because I’ve been waiting a couple years to hop on a cruise ship again,” Sandra said. It was probably needed at the time, but I think things are opening up. It’s time for them to start selling again and for people to start vacationing again.”

The Holtcamp’s are getting ready for their fifth cruise. They tell OzarksFirst they have been waiting for cruise ships to come back for two years.

“We’re at the age where we need to fulfill our bucket list of trips,” Sandra said. “This has put us behind a couple years. We’re excited to get back into travel mode.”

Sandra says even though the CDC removed its warning, there still are guidelines they will have to follow to board the ship.     

“You have to be fully vaccinated,” Sandra said. “You have to test two days prior to the ship leaving. I can live with that if I can just go. The CDC redoing things made it possible for the ships to start moving again.”

The Sunnyland Travel Center tells OzarksFirst that within the last couple of weeks, some cruise lines have already sold out at least two months before setting sail.

Owner Frederick Harris says before the CDC’s announcement, he took lots of calls about their travel warning. With it now being removed and the CDC only recommending people wear a mask on board, Harris says he believes the cruise industry will recover.

“Finally, finally we can get the government out of the way and folks can make a good decision for themselves when it’s time to travel,” Harris said. “We’re delighted [the CDC] lifted that restriction.”

Almost every major cruise line requires a passenger to be vaccinated before coming on board. Still, Harris tells OzarksFirst he can see the entire economy benefit from not having a cruise travel warning.

“You figure people have to travel to get to the departure location and so all of the restaurants along the way, the hotels, the mom and pops,” Harris said. “It helps not only the cruise industry but the travel industry as a whole. Folks have been waiting. Some folks have been waiting a really long time.”

Harris says waiting for cruises to come back has been a frustrating situation for everyone involved.           

“The world was flipped upside down and on its head,” Harris said. “Honestly, folks have been ready to go and willing to go much sooner than the restrictions have been lifted. This is just one more step. Hopefully, it’s the final step in getting things closer to normal and folks are ready to go.”            

Harris encourages anyone who wants to go on a cruise this summer or fall, to start planning as soon as possible.