KOMPAS.com – Last year forced the cruise industry to a complete halt due to the global spread of Covid-19. Business had boomed for years: more passengers, increasingly newer and bigger liners. Then came Covid-19. Since then, most of the estimated 400 cruise liners worldwide have been lying at anchor.
Older models have been sold off or scrapped to save on costs, because the upkeep on cruise liners is expensive and the companies’ revenues were at nearly zero for months. The cruise industry suffered losses in the billions; the travel group TUI spoke of a “catastrophic year.”
In Europe alone, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, more than 200,000 jobs that depend directly or indirectly on the industry have been lost since March 2020. Tens of thousands of employees are still working reduced hours.
The cruise companies are still in the starting blocks, but they're slightly more optimistic that they can hoist anchor again. Like the rest of the travel industry, they're looking forward and pinning their hopes on the vaccines that have been developed and approved. If they work as hoped, the ships could set sail in increasing numbers starting in spring or summer.
“Right now a lot is taking place in the background,” said industry advisor and cruise analyst Thomas P. Illes in an interview with DW. He said a number of liners could be operational within a few weeks, some even within a couple of days.
Ready to sail, with reworked hygiene concepts
So that everything runs smoothly on board, the companies have developed stringent hygiene concepts.
The Covid-19 outbreaks like those that took place on numerous cruise liners at the beginning of the pandemic are absolutely to be avoided. That’s why anyone wanting to board a cruise liner must be tested beforehand. The costs will be borne by a majority of cruise providers.
There are to be strict hygiene protocols on board as well: masks will be obligatory for passengers and staff alike.