The U.K. cruise industry seems to have taken the advice from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to heart. The Prime Minister said in June that the cruise industry needed to go through a period of re-invention to guard itself against COVID-19.
The U.K. Chamber of Shipping, together with Cruise Lines International Association U.K. and Ireland, and the different cruise lines have now released four different frameworks that go into great detail how to operate in, and prevent an outbreak of cases of COVID-19 onboard.
The frameworks also detail a myriad of protocols and measures that guests and crew will need to follow.
Preparing to Resume Operations
It’s no surprise that the U.K. cruise market has been left reeling after the last six-months of suspended operations. The cruise lines will need to show that cruising can be done safely if they want to start operations again. In an industry under the looking glass, any incident related to COVID-19 will lead the notorious British press to have a field day.
The U.K. government seems to be on the same side as the cruise industry, calling the cruise industry a vital industry to the U.K. economy and wanting to start up operations sooner rather than later.
Across the U.K., the industry is said to support over 40.000 direct jobs, paying £1.35bn in wages. Cruise Lines International Association U.K. and Ireland says the industry generates £10bn annually for the U.K. economy.
It speaks for itself that all stakeholders place equal importance on a resumption of operations for U.K. based cruise lines, ports, suppliers, agents, crew, and officers.
The four frameworks focus on COVID-19 management plans the cruise lines must have in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on board the ships. The list of requirements for the cruise lines, passengers, and crew members is extensive and include, amongst other things:
- Voyage planning needs to include key ports for disembarking COVID positive passengers and crew safely.
- The framework documents stress the importance of informing passengers of the changes made to cruising and what they can expect from the moment they book to the moment they disembark. This includes enhanced health screening, changes made at terminals, and what to expect onboard the ship and during any shore excursions the passengers may take.
- Cruise lines are not allowed to let passengers disembark in countries that are not on the U.K.’s travel corridor list, and shore excursions offered will provide health measures comparable to those onboard the ship. This includes social distancing, mandatory use of face coverings and hand hygiene facilities during excursions.
- Most public areas onboard cruise ships will mirror the current regulations at that time in the U.K. This includes entertainment areas, Spa and hairdressing salon, retail outlets, Food and Beverage venues, and nursery and play areas.
- Crew members will only be permitted to start work upon completing a self-isolation period and confirmation of a negative test result towards the end of the self-isolation period.
One issue that does remain; the U.K. cruise market is based and built around the 50+ market. And the U.K. government has made it clear that people over 70 years old should refrain from taking cruises altogether.
This 70+ group is one of the largest customer bases for most cruise operators in the U.K.
The U.K. is aiming for re-introduction and resumption of cruising in the U.K. in a streamlined manner. As such, it will now be up to the cruise lines and government institutions to make cruising in the U.K. a success again. With the frameworks in place, the U.K. is undoubtedly well-prepared to do so. The question now is if they will have the guests to fill up the ships.
Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock.com