The future of cruises is still very uncertain. The cruising industry was one of the hardest hit by this pandemic. People saw cruise ships as infection breeding grounds, read about the scandals and possible malpractices inside those ships and they may not be sure it is safe to go back.
On the other hand, we need to consider the current restrictions and how these are going to affect the industry going forward. It needs to be safe to get people in, but it also needs to be viable for the cruise operators. Establishing a balance between these two major factors is going to be a very complex exercise.
An unwanted burden
Since the beginning of this pandemic, cruise ships have always been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It started with the Diamond Princess in Japan, them the Ruby Princess in Sydney and more. Several people died from clusters in these ships and it was revealed that, in some cases, there was malpractice.
These luxurious floating hotels quickly went from being a dream come true to an absolute nightmare. Positive cases were isolated, but in a ship, it is always hard to contain infections and more and more cases appeared. In the end, the ships became an unwanted burden no country was happy to accept.
Making it safe
No one knows when this industry will be back in full force, no one knows when we all be able to be back in full force, but we need to start planing and looking for our future. Surely, there are many lessons to learnt from all of this, and they should learn from their mistakes. Regulation is needed, and maybe better training of everyone involved. This was an unprecedented situation, and both crews and authorities were dealing with it for the first time. It doesn’t excuse them from their mistakes, but it is a fact that may have played a crucial role in it.
History proved that after a major disaster, always come a major change. I believe it won’t be different this time. People will look at all the mistakes done and will come up with solutions. In my view, these solutions will have to be in the form of regulation and training. Both authorities and crews must be adequately trained on how to act in an event like this. Great communication is also crucial, so authorities get accurate information about the situation onboard these ships and can give crews all necessary instructions. Regulation, to enforce transparency and good practice. Maybe heavier fines for those who fail to make accurate reports.
It also seems clear to me, that the number of passengers will also be less and social distancing is here to stay. Staff needs to be trained, so they know how to keep themselves and passengers protected. This will make cruises safer and, ultimately, will make them regain people’s trust.
I believe the future of cruises will be very different from the cruises we had until now. Even with a vaccine, the situation onboard a ship can get too volatile pretty quick, so, measures must be taken so it won’t escalate rapidly like it did this time.
Fewer passengers onboard and social distancing means less profit. That means operators need to be creative, so they still make it viable. That is, in my view, the biggest challenge for the operators. They are losing huge amounts of money and they need to get back to work as soon as possible, but they also need to ensure their passengers it is safe to do so. That won’t happen overnight, but I believe, in the long run, the industry will recover and people will be back on cruises.