Learning the CDC had not extended its No Sail Order was a positive step forward. The cruise industry is now wrestling with the enormity of meeting the many complicated requirements of the framework outlined by the CDC’s Conditional Sail Order.
To be clear, cruise lines have already met a number of steps in the protocols they’ve published. Testing, testing and more testing is foundational to the protocols created by every cruise line, and CLIA supports it as a cornerstone to a resumption of cruising. To its great credit, the cruise industry is being extremely proactive as they evaluate requirements and work with their teams to create the protocols needed to meet the CDC’s requirements. While that work is ongoing, additional cruises have been cancelled, with some cruise lines cancelling sailings into March 2021.
One of the requirements the industry will have to meet is successful “test cruises” using volunteer guests. The prospect of volunteering for a cruise has generated an avalanche of interest. On November 12 Royal Caribbean created a sign-up page and Facebook group. Within days of establishing the sign-up page thousands of people volunteered. To date, the number exceeds 130,000.
Loyal, avid cruisers are anxious to get back to sea. They have first-hand experience with pre-COVID hygiene and safety protocols onboard ships and cite those standards as the basis for their complete confidence in volunteering for test cruises. This loyal following is informed, with many having read the full CDC Conditional Sail Order. Their cruising experience, and the CDC’s requirements, generated lots of enthusiastic and supportive comments according to a recent Washington Post article.
- “What I’m hoping for is just to be part of getting cruising started back up. If this is one of the steps for that to happen then it needs to happen. Cruising benefits not just the cruise industry, but the workers, the ports that need the cruises, everybody.”
- “I feel like the cruise lines have gotten a bad rap during this whole deal. They have always been clean, and thought of their guests, putting them first.”
- “If the public is not comfortable with sailing again, they should refrain from going. Let the ones who feel ok with it take advantage.”
Of critical importance is that these test cruises will not be cocktails by the pool. These test cruises are intended to provide rigorous and realistic experiences. The Sun Sentinel recently reported that “to get back in operation requires the simulations to include run-throughs of check-ins, evacuation procedures, on-board activities, including at dining and entertainment venues, evacuation procedures, transfer of symptomatic passengers and crew members from cabin rooms to isolation rooms, quarantining of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew members, plus lab tests of all passengers before getting on and after getting off the ships.”
Those loyal to the cruise industry understand its importance to local economies and communities, and they cherish a unique aspect of cruising; the ability to explore multiple cultures in one trip, a value proposition that other segments of tourism can’t deliver without adding significantly to consumer costs.
Interested in being part of the solution that leads to a return of cruising? Check out Royal Caribbean’s “Volunteer of the Seas” site.
This post was written by cruise industry expert, Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.