Certainty is the key factor that cruise operators need to resume service, rather than a specific government-mandated date, according to the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA’s) global chair.
Speaking at Travel Weekly‘s virtual Travel DAZE event yesterday, Adam Goldstein said the return to cruising has to be a staggered approach.
“One thing I want to stress for everybody watching and listening is there’s not going to be a day where dozens or hundreds of cruise ships snap back into action,” he said.
“Getting the crew back in place, training the crew on the new protocols, getting the ships to the home ports, working with travel agents to motivate demand again, all that is going to mean a sequenced resumption so we’re preparing for that reality.”
In Australia, the human biosecurity emergency period, which has been in place since March and restricts the entry of cruise ships to Australian waters, is expected to be lifted by 17 December.
Goldstein said that if we don’t know until 16 December what will happen on 17 December, then there’s no way to prepare the ships or even the selling and marketing process for what will happen.
“You cannot snap a cruise ship back into service. There would be many weeks of ramp-up time to get the crew there and train them and prepare them for service so what really matters in addition to a specific date is when is there enough certainty for the cruise operators to begin to prepare their ships to resume service,” he said.
“So while 17 December is the earliest possible date that could happen in Australia, it would take much longer than that if we don’t know until then or after when sailings could resume, even on a limited and well-controlled narrow basis.”
Even though Australia has been offseason for much of the crisis, Goldstein estimates the economic loss for the country as a result of the cruise pause would be in the vicinity of $1.5 billion, and he estimates the figure will balloon as we approach 17 December.
So what will a return to normal look like for the cruising industry? Goldstein said there are a few approaches to get people back on ships.
“There’s discussion of things like intrastate cruising where not only would a cruise ship not leave the country, it wouldn’t even leave a state in a country,” he said.
“Or people could cruise to multiple states in a country but not leave the country, or our cruises could cruise within some type of defined corridor or bubble that everyone is confident about has strong control over the virus in every area of the bubble.
“These are all potential solutions to get cruising going again in Australia and New Zealand. We want to go down a path that works for everyone and keeps our guests and crew healthy and our citizens and crew who work in the places that the ships would visit.”
To hear what Goldstein had to say about what cruise lines are doing to support a carefully phased resumption of cruising, as well as CLIA’s industry-wide approach to rolling out health measures, you can watch a recording of his talk HERE.