Overview of the cruise ship industry after Covid-19

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 Industry overview by Ani

The previous year has been nearly disastrous for the cruise industry together with hurricanes and wildfires accompanied by the severe pandemic outbreak hitting almost every market and sector globally. 2020 industry condition has been a real contrast to its preceding year that has seen over 30 million passengers with almost 2 million people employed as a result. Consequently, the industry contributed more than 154 billion US dollars to the global economy in 2019. However, the hopes for a brighter and more sustainable future were quickly destroyed by the upcoming years.

Despite the covid-19 pandemic, the industry officials and leaders kept strengthening public health measures to fasten the recovery of the cruising market. They managed to resurrect the market in certain places notably in Europe with a significantly improved focus on responsible tourism. We are going to highlight the achievement of the industry in 2020 and 2021 emphasizing what has been done in order to fight the present challenges and if they were effective at all.

The first response to the health crisis

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) took its very first action in terms of public health protection at the end of January 2020, as soon as WHO’s health emergency declaration came in. They have made a decision to suspend all the operations in a couple of months and stopped all sailings globally, which made the cruising industry a pioneering market to voluntarily stop its commercial business in the very best interest of the clients’ health. During the first half of 2020, the CLIA sent home over 100,000 crew members for health safety measures and covered their travel expenses, as well. Most of the staff returned home on the ship because of the air travel restrictions and other limitations regarding the closing borders.

The financial hit on the industry was immense. It was especially evident in the rapidly falling prices of the cruise ship stocks as investors were giving up on hopes of the industry bouncing back. However, they were mistaken for the industry leaders and the crew. Thanks to the efficient and quick measures undertaken by the various cruise companies, commercial sailing has reopened till the end of 2020. The companies began active health evaluation, 100% testing of the crew and passengers, strict health protocols, denial of boarding for violations, etc.

The speedy recovery of the cruise industry

The sailings were paused until the very beginning of July 2020. The operations resumed in few parts of the European, Asian, and South Pacific regions. However, within the first six months since the continual of the business, there were less than 200 sailings operated by various cruise companies, which is considerably lower than the stats from previous years. The best thing about it was that all 200 sailings were highly successful and demonstrated the efficiency of new health protocols adopted by cruise companies. There were no Covid infection cases recorded on any of the sailings which further enhanced the trust of the passengers towards the companies.

In 2021, the cruises started appearing again in major destinations of Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico, as well as other parts of the world. According to the cruise industry trends of late 2020, there are several predictions of the present year how customers will react to the ongoing health crises and will act in relation to the sailings. According to these trends, around 74% of the cruises are pretty much ready to sail again in the upcoming years. In 2021-2022 alone, it is predicted that two out of three cruisers will register onboard. Furthermore, the forecast demonstrates that more than half of the international vacationers who will be willing to cruise in the upcoming years have never cruised before.

Even though the forecasts sound promising there is much lying ahead of us with fourth Covid-19 waves hitting some of the regions and few countries closing down their borders again. Hence, it is too early to speak about the bright future of the cruising industry within the health turmoil of the pandemic, however, we do see the signs of recovery that undoubtedly leave some hope for better industry performance.