The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cruise industry continue almost a year after cruise lines voluntarily suspended operations worldwide in mid-March of 2020. Since then, the cruise lines have been working to adopt and implement rigorous health and safety guidelines in the hopes of being able to sail again soon.
In October 2020, the US Center for Disease Control’s no-sail order expired, and a conditional sail order was put in place, calling for a gradual, phased resumption of cruise operations. While some cruises have successfully taken place in different parts of the world, cruises originating from North America continue to be on hold, for the most part.
In response to the conditional sail order, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) which represents major cruise lines worldwide, announced they would require mandatory pre-cruise COVID-19 testing of all passengers and crew before embarkation for any trip. Regardless, the Sea Dream Yacht Company, which required all crew and passengers to test negative twice before embarking, unfortunately still had a COVID-19 outbreak while at sea in December 2020 (See Possible Problems with Pre-Cruise COVID-19 Testing.)
As of February 2021, Travel Weekly reported that a number of cruise lines are canceling upcoming trips and are extending the pause on their operations. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., for example, recently extended the suspension of cruising on their three brands until June, and Disney Cruise Line has canceled several sailings – including ones that were scheduled through July.
Cruise Hive reported that the industry’s latest trend is to require passengers to get vaccinated prior to traveling. Crystal Cruises announced on February 18 that all guests would need to prove they have received a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before boarding. Crew members will not be required to be vaccinated (as the vaccine may not yet be widely available in their home countries) but will still need to test negative before embarking.
Crystal Cruises has also extended the pause on its ocean cruises until June – they are the largest cruise line so far to require vaccination, but it’s likely that there will be more to follow as cruise lines work to reassure guests that cruising is safe once again.
According to the CLIA, the cruise industry has suffered devastating impacts from the COVID-19 crisis. “Between mid-March and September 2020, it is estimated that the suspension of cruise operations has resulted in a loss of more than $77 billion in global economic activity, 518,000 jobs, and $23 billion in wages.”
Still, they are optimistic that cruises will resume in the near future. In their 2021 State of the Cruise Industry report, CLIA reports that 74% of cruisers are likely to cruise again in the next few years. And cruise lines are working on greatly enhancing the cruise experience, utilizing apps, wearables, and other contactless technologies to make for safer, more efficient interactions and activities.
DeCurtis, the premier provider of location and proximity enabled solutions, was founded specifically with a focus on the cruise industry and its unique challenges. If you are interested in learning how we can help your cruise line improve safety and security, drive operational efficiency, and enhance the overall guest experience, visit our website or contact us today.