It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the cruise industry, but it’s safe to say that the current outbreak of Covid-19 is the most difficult challenge cruise lines have ever faced. Last week saw every major cruise line, their sub-brands and other small ship lines included, halt operation for at least 30 days. Some even longer.
Cruise lines ultimately made the decision based on the health, safety and wellbeing of their passengers, many of whom are older and the most at-risk. Based on what we’ve heard from our readers, cruisers aren’t going to let a period of inactivity dissuade them from taking their preferred vacation and many executives in the industry are offering a positive outlook on the future of cruising in this difficult time.
Industry Brass Aren’t Panicking
It’s important to remember that those who operate cruise lines are people with years, if not decades of experience handling the issues which come with operating billion-dollar companies. Through thick and thin, cruise executives are the most capable people available to see this crisis through.
Ken Muskat, EVP & Chief Operating Officer at MSC Cruises USA, posted his thoughts on the stoppage on LinkedIn praising the ability of the staff at MSC to adapt to the constant uncertainty over the past few weeks and, when the call finally came to halt ships, their positive outlook moving forward.
“I applaud the industry for trying to make operational changes day after day to keep our ships cruising and keep our guests’ vacations intact. But it finally became impossible,” he wrote.
“The industry is resilient and we’ve gotten through tough times before. In the end we are stronger, we thrive, we bounce back and we provide amazing vacation experiences for our guests. The cruise industry will continue to grow and endure. My personal thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support,” Ken wrote.
Virgin Voyages is Down, But Not Out
We’ve been waiting almost six year for the launch of Virgin Voyages’ ship Scarlet Lady but just as she finally touched the sea for the first time, we found out we’d have to wait a little longer. In a statement from founder Richard Branson and cruise line President & CEO Tom McAlpin, they explained their decision to push back the inaugural sailing came from listening to customers. The statement also made clear that Scarlet’s time is coming, we just need a little patience.
“Despite what what we are facing, travel will always be a way for us to connect with one another and open ourselves up to new ideas and ways of thinking. So while this isn’t the time for us to meet on the spectacular Scarlet Lady, it will be soon. We can’t wait to see you on board.”
Minor Setback for a Major Comeback
Other executives offered words of support to all those affected and added some optimism in their statements last week when the halt on cruising became commonplace.
Orlando Ashford, President of Holland America, said “Holland America Line operates 14 ships on all seven continents and we thank all of our guests, travel advisor partners, employees and business partners for their support during this challenging time. We look forward to welcoming our guests back on board soon.”
Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, said “Through serving our many guests who still wanted to travel, we’ve stood with all the people in the port communities here in the U.S., and in the other places we sail, who are dependent on us for their livelihood,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “And today we stand with the nation as we together seek to mitigate the spread.”
Harry Sommer, who just recently became President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a letter to cruisers “We are incredibly appreciative of your loyalty and trust in allowing us to welcome you aboard our amazing ships. We remain dedicated to providing our guests with the best travel experiences across the globe, and we look forward to welcoming you aboard very soon.”
Hang in there, cruisers. The people in charge are doing everything they can to get you back onboard as soon as it’s safe! Until then, follow Porthole Cruise Magazine on social media and share your favorite cruise memories!