Can Cruise Lines Survive the Covid-19 Pandemic?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the cruise industry, with many ships being forced to suspend operations and thousands of passengers stranded for weeks. Vaccination is not mandatory, but is highly recommended for those who wish to take a cruise. Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line have recently relaxed their travel requirements related to Covid-19, removing pre-travel testing requirements for most of the United States. Some exceptions still apply depending on the destination.

Disney Cruise Line has also lifted its Covid-19 restrictions, no longer requiring passengers to be tested for Covid-19 regardless of their vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still strongly recommends that passengers be tested for Covid-19 one day after boarding and that they be up to date with their vaccines. People with a medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider before booking a cruise, even if they are fully vaccinated. Cruise lines have also begun to relax restrictions on the use of masks.

Royal Caribbean has adopted an optimal mask policy for fully vaccinated passengers, while Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line have withdrawn their mandates to wear masks on board. The CDC is investigating dozens of cases on cruise ships and advising cruise lines to require masks indoors and outdoors in busy areas. Brian Salerno, senior vice president for global maritime policy at the International Cruise Line Association, expects many cruise lines to ultimately participate in the CDC's investigation. Canada has ruled that its ports are closed to cruise ships until the end of July, and Italy, Spain and France have said that August is the earliest they can expect cruise ships to return.

Gray Faust says cruise lines have been successful in tracing contacts to notify those close contacts for the same reason cruise ships are so vulnerable to transmission that they are gated communities. Celebrity Cruises withdrew its testing requirement for cruise ships of five days or less for vaccinated passengers in August. There has been a wave of cancellations, including several Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line trips, as crew members called out of illness and destinations closed their ports to cruise ships. Can an industry recover from such reputational damage? The cruise industry has a lot of money and has been refining performance management for more than four decades, but we don't know how bad it will get. What should a recovery plan consider? Ilana Schattauer, a Montreal cruise travel blogger who runs the website and YouTube channel Life Well Cruised, posted a video Sunday about her upcoming cruise. You might be thinking that cruise ships would be too close to be comfortable after a pandemic, but it's worth mentioning that most cruise lines have taken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety and health of all their passengers.

Kathryn Babena
Kathryn Babena

Evil organizer. Infuriatingly humble internet ninja. Infuriatingly humble webaholic. Certified internet aficionado. Infuriatingly humble beeraholic. Total tv enthusiast.

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