Post-COVID-19 Cruise Industry
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the global cruise market and damaged the consumers’ perception of this industry. After the significant losses they suffered during the past months, cruise companies are trying to recover, by reducing the number of ships in their fleets, by reducing orders of new ships, and by selling the older ones, while doing any necessary adjustment actions, since, eventually, the changes that will need to take place in various sectors of the industry are significant.
Given the speed with which the virus can be transmitted on cruise ships, as in the case of Diamond Princess and Ruby Princess, it is now a given that cruise activities will only be resumed with strict specifications and guidelines for pre-departure medical evaluation. These control measures are expected to affect both cruise lines and ports. The lives of passengers during the cruise are also expected to change radically. The cleaning services inside the cruise ship are expected to be more methodical and intensive than in the past, while significant changes are expected to occur in the equipment of each cabin: e.g. use of antimicrobial mats and contactless interaction. The installation of hand sanitizer stations on the decks for passengers is also expected. Future cruise protocols are expected to include regular health and safety preparedness exercises, leaflets, more effective quarantine and emergency plans, frequent sheet changes, and possibly an obligation to wear a mask indoors. The integration of these measures is expected to be assisted by new technologies, e.g. robotic cleaning systems and new cleaning and disinfection technologies and products. The focus dining during the cruise is also expected to change from the current self-service process to table service. In parallel, entertainment spaces inside cruise ships, e.g. theaters, cinemas, and nightclubs, must comply with the rules of social distancing. In fact, some spaces are expected to be modified and converted into medical facilities or rooms for medical and nursing staff, while the new regulations are expected to reduce the number of staff in each cabin from the current number of 4 people to 2, and also to reduce the number of available rooms for passengers, in order to increase the availability of empty rooms in case of emergency. All the aforementioned novelties have already begun to influence the design and construction of new ships, the designers of which are now turning to solutions of smaller sizes, of fewer passengers, and of higher prices, in order to offer passengers a safer and even more luxurious experience.