Many cruise companies jumped at the chance to start sailing in the UK this summer but according to analysts with GlobalData, cruise companies should do this with a reasonable amount of caution.
Negative occurrences like a COVID-19 outbreak, even a minor one, could significantly impact guests’ confidence to travel and have a significant impact on the image the industry has been building in recent months of being safe to travel with.
Although if done right and the first cruises show a great success, it could jumpstart cruise tourism, the cruise industry, and even general international travel.
Domestic Cruises a Logical Choice
A restart of cruise operations in the domestic market has been a smart move by the UK government. Not only will they be able to see how the policies and frameworks for safe sailing have been implemented by doing so with UK residents only, but a significant risk factor has also been removed from the entire process, international travel.
As most voyages will be seacations, with a small number of ports of call for some cruise lines, the domestic voyages have the chance to be a huge confidence booster for the general public to start booking cruises. Associate Analyst at GlobalData, Rheanna Norris comments:
“Seacations have great potential to showcase cruise safety procedures and engender trust among travelers. This will be a much-needed reassurance after consumer confidence dropped in 2020.”
If done right, it will encourage further higher yielding bookings for possible international voyages later this year and into 2022, when the cruise industry is expected to be back operating at 100% capacity with usual itineraries.
The Potential Negative Impact
Of course, the potential negative impact that could come with any incidents are enormous. The media attention, especially in the UK with its tabloid newspapers eager for a negative jab towards anyone, and the CDC looking over the shoulder of the Brits, the hardest part is still to come.
The fact of the matter is that although the cruise lines have implemented a considerable amount of measures, a requirement for vaccinations is in place for most cruise lines (Disney being one that does not require a vaccine), testing is widely available and an essential requirement for any travel anywhere, there remains little room for failure:
“The number of shared facilities mean cruises present a risk for transmitting viruses easily, and COVID-19 safety on board is key to this operation. Strict safety procedures and traveler requirements such as a vaccine or negative test proof when embarking are essential,” according to Rheanna Norris.
Although requiring vaccination proof would be an easy option to protect those on board from an outbreak, it could prove to be an ineffective measure in the long run, as reduced bookings are a real possibility.
This counts especially in countries where the trust in vaccines has dropped lately, those who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons, but it would also exclude a valuable market for cruise companies; family bookings.
Nonetheless, the UK’s cruise market opening means there is an excellent opportunity for those in the UK to start traveling again and have a vacation. It might not be the 100% resumption of cruises we are all hoping for, but in light of the events of the last 12 months, it is a huge step towards it.
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