This month saw extraordinary changes to the cruise industry – with almost every line pausing itineraries to help in the battle with COVID-19.
Cruise lines in Asia are using the opportunity to work hard to produce new health regimes on board that will ensure that passengers are even safer on their journeys once cruising resumes.
The lines sent their messages to travellers in a series of passionate and courageous videos.
First, Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain produced a passionate, no-holds-barred speech in which he spelt out why cruise ships would be back. You can see him at work here – and watch till the end, he has a great punch line!
“Like you, we’re hurting. We’ve had to cancel cruises; we’ve lost revenue and our people are putting in long days to ensure the health and safety of our guests and our crew, ” he said. “But we have absolutely sailed through rough waters like this before and we have weathered every storm side by side with you.”
Later in the week came the head of Viking, Torstein Hagen. In what must have been a tough call, he suspended sailings on the world’s largest fleet of river ships and his new six-strong ocean liners until May. The line said it would be offering those who had booked 125% of their fares if they reserved a future journey, or a full refund if they didn’t.
Again he took to video to shoulder the blame. “This is a decision we made with a heavy heart, but with present circumstances what they are, we are unable to deliver the high-quality Viking experience for which we are known” he said.
Viking came out with the most generous refund policy a week ago – cancel in 24 hours and get your money back. Bang in line with the cruise line’s “no nickel and diming” philosophy.
Finally, Jan Swartz, president of Princess, announced the line would halt all its ships until May 10.
“Our hearts break for those who have lost their lives,” she said in a video.
She described her crews – particularly those on Diamond Princess – as “gladiators”.
But she added: “Sometimes even gladiators need to rest. This is perhaps the most difficult decision of our history.”
She promised she would reset the environmental conditions on board the ships. And she urged people to book a cruise to show their support for her 35,000 staff, and the communities around the world who depend on the industry.
Cruise&Travel Asia’s readers are keen cruisers. Overnight, we conducted a poll asking who would cruise now, and who would cruise later.
The good news is they are all keen to cruise again.
- 41.3% of respondents said that they would be open to cruising “at any time”
- 29% would be open to cruising once the pandemic is under control and vaccine available
- 12.9% said they will cruise, but not for 12 months
There are some extraordinary bargains on offer from cruise companies keen to get you back in their cabins and suites. Book for the new season and through 2021, read the cancellation fine print and get good travel insurance. Make sure you pick a line with a good reputation (which is all of those sailing our waters).
Then relax. You’ll have a terrific time. And perhaps, by then, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.