Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Cruising Predictions About Testing, Destinations, Health Bubbles and the Permanence of Protocols
It should come as no surprise that the main topic on everyone’s mind during this year’s Seatrade Cruise Virtual industry convention was COVID-19, with a particular focus on restarting operations. Despite such daunting challenges, the cruise travel market is the most optimistic it has been since shutting down sailings.
Among the takeaways were the following key points.
Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three
More than anything, testing for the novel coronavirus was presented as the most important step for cruising’s eventual return — specifically, the 100% testing of all passengers and crew before boarding any ship as outlined by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
In fact, Rick Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises, believes testing effectively makes vaccines “irrelevant” as tests will help weed out any instances of COVID-19 regardless of who has or who has not been inoculated.
Another common belief is that while testing is a crucial “first gate,” as stated by Dr. Grant Tarling, chief medical officer, Group Health Services at Carnival Corporation, it is still possible that the virus could make its way onboard. Thus, multiple layers of protection including masking and physical distancing, as well as case isolation as needed, will be implemented.
Protocols Not Permanent
It is also good to remember that the strictest health protocols will not be in place forever. Donnie Brown, vice president of maritime policy at CLIA, anticipates stringent measures to exist at the “initial resumption” but looks forward “to being able to scale them back in time.”
He said what will contribute to the eventual loosening of protocols is a combination of easing restrictions on terrestrial travel; the availability of treatments and vaccines; and the remaining prevalence of COVID-19 in source markets and destinations.
Next Up: The Caribbean
Holland America Line’s new president Gus Antorcha emphasized that cruise lines’ own private islands will come into play more to start, but traditional destinations are not out of the running.
Even if there are more restrictions, to begin with, sanctioned shore excursions are not necessarily a bad thing. Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn, pointed out that the cruise industry actually started out with “controlled” tours.
Ultimately, “pleasure should not be restricted,” said Clarice Modeste-Curwen, minister for tourism and civil aviation, Grenada Tourism Authority, but the region is rethinking attractions as needed, as well as avoiding mass gatherings with smaller groups. She specifically cited beaches and health-focused tours as good offerings.
It will come down to instilling traveller confidence in destinations and building mutual trust between ports and cruise lines, and those discussions are well underway.
Alaska’s Health Bubble
Both Holland America Line (HAL) and Windstar Cruises have specifically said they are planning for full 2021 Alaska seasons.
Equally anticipating next year’s return are Alaska’s individual ports of call. Skagway, for one, depends on cruising for a staggering 90% of its local economy, according to Andrew Cremata, borough mayor of Skagway.
"We want [guests] to have a completely free experience while they’re in the port,” he said.
Cremata discussed how a health bubble can be created on a ship, but also in a small destination such as Skagway, where visitors can still openly wander beyond shore excursions to hike, shop or dine. Crucial to that will be routinely testing seasonal workers so the local bubble and incoming bubble can safely interact.
Demand and Demographics Remain Steady
Also positive is the news that traveller demand remains high. Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, spoke of the emerging trend of “revenge travel,” and the huge desire there is to get back out there, particularly among those who have cruised before. She said cruising is already their preferred vacation, and they miss cruising with friends.
HAL’s Antorcha does not see demographics shifting either. Those who “took travel for granted,” are raring to go, and, perhaps surprisingly, older guests are disproportionately booking cruises right now, he said.
Similarly, MSC’s Sasso believes loyalists will return. First-timers “may have been moved a little bit away from the fence,” he said, but there’s an opportunity to capture a new audience that appreciates all the robust steps the cruise industry is taking to ensure the healthiest of environments.
Travel Advisors Are Key
“Coming out of this, [travel agents] will never be in greater demand,” said Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network.
Sadly, Sharpe does foresee a smaller community that is “leaner and meaner,” but also one that has a chance to quickly grow back as consumers need help understanding everything. The additional silver lining, he added, is the potential for greater revenue per advisor with fewer in the market.
To that end, Dan Blanchard, owner and CEO of UnCruise Adventures — who said “God bless agents” — remains very thankful for advisors’ continued support and advised them to become as knowledgeable as possible about all the new protocols to keep their edge moving forward.
MSC holds out hope for UK passengers as the second ship sets sail
Monday, 19 October 2020
Sunday, 18 October 2020
New Disney Wish Set to Debut in Summer 2022
Saturday, 17 October 2020
Singapore’s Cruises to Nowhere to Set Sail in November
AIDA Cruises to Return to Sailing This Weekend in Italy
Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Carnival cancels November cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral
Monday, 12 October 2020
Disney Wonder on Her Way To Dry dock
White House hosts call with cruise line bosses to discuss Healthy Sail Panel proposals
Saturday, 10 October 2020
Royal Caribbean to restore Singapore sailings
MSC Cruises obtains additional safety stamp
|MSC Splendida in Valetta Harbour|
MSC CHAIRMAN URGES ‘HARMONISED’ APPROACH TO REVIVE TRAVEL
Vago addressed a meeting of tourism ministers from 20 of the richest countries in the world when he talked about MSC’s experiences of relaunching cruises in the Mediterranean in August.
“The core element of the protocol is our universal testing of all guests and crew before embarkation to create a sterile and safe bubble, which protects them throughout their time with us,” said Vago during the virtual event held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“We are now in the midst of our eighth sailing with a second vessel due to restart later this month with a longer itinerary, and we have safely carried 16,000 guests.”
Vago added the line had denied boarding to more than 100 passengers who had either tested positive for Covid-19 themselves or travelled with somebody who had tested positive, as well as those who did not have the correct medical paperwork or broke MSC’s protocols.
“Thanks to our protocol and other similar ones, cruise ships could be considered possibly amongst the safest holidays anywhere in the world, and there is no reason why other forms of travel and holiday cannot be as safe,” stressed Vago.
“I hope that the data we have accrued and the harmonisation of protocols across the entire transport, hospitality and tourism industry can be the way forward to work with authorities around the world as testing becomes more available.”
Friday, 9 October 2020
Southampton debut planned for new Carnival Cruise Line ship
Carnival Corporation confident over long-term cruise demand
Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Future cruise credits touted as ‘huge opportunity’ for agents
- Lead reporting tool to help agencies note and follow up on pending FCCs
- Communications schedule to help agents organise client follow-ups
- Templates for FCC-focused emails, letters and phone calls
- Personalisation tools for agents to customise messages based on client needs and interests