The Choppy Seas of Cruising
So many industries have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus and the worldwide shutdowns that took place. But I don't think there has been an industry more impacted than that of the cruise industry. Cruises were already being canceled and effected well before nations began their lockdown and shutdown policies. But when travel came to a halt, cruises were still making headlines due to ships being quarantined out at sea or in port. Cruise passengers being stuck in their staterooms for days. It was a nightmare playing out on national TV.
Then things started to reopen. People began moving around and traveling again. Hotels were struggling with their 50% capacity issues. Planes were trying to figure out what routes to reopen and how many planes would be needed to meet the new demand. But cruise lines were being told they were not yet a safe and viable vacation option. Cruise ships were literally sitting empty and docked across the globe while certain government agencies tried to come up with "safe cruising protocols."
As cruise lines announced new sailing dates, demand was still very lackluster. Only the vaccinated and regularly tested were going to be allowed onboard. Masks were everywhere on the ship. All of the new rules and protocols were not driving new or increased demand again for the cruise lines. Most cruisers were and still are waiting for things to change when it comes to pre-boarding tests and vaccine requirements, but the changes are coming too slow to offset the industry's catastrophic losses.
The impact of those losses are really just starting to be felt. Carnival has been struggling to pay its debt. Royal Caribbean just recently went out to find new financing to try to restructure their debt. And in addition to the financial woes, many cruise lines are still struggling to hire full staff back onto their ships. Princess cruises just canceled 11 cruises scheduled for one ship simply because they cannot get enough people hired and trained.
We are just now in the slowest season for most cruise lines. Summer cruising is mainly relegated to itineraries in Europe as well as Alaska. The winter cruise season will be very telling this year. Every cruise line needs a winter season that will rival 2018 and 2019 in order for these losses to maybe take a turn for the black.
Time will surely tell which cruise lines did indeed survive and which ones will become further victims of the virus lockdowns. If you are pondering a cruise vacation, you really need to contact a travel professional and have them explain to you very clearly what your rights will be in the case of a cruise getting canceled or a cruise line going default. We are just now starting to book cruises again and we want all of our clients to know the real situation so they can go into their vacation plans with eyes wide open.