While the dark cloud of the health pandemic hovers above each of us, the cruise industry looks optimistically into the future. In spite of a doom and gloom portrayal in the media, the facts of the past point to a resurgence of enthusiasm for cruising.
The PortMiami alone saw an all time high of just under seven million cruisers sail from the “Cruise Capital of the World” in 2019, exceeding numbers from 2018 and 2017 before that. Add the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest cruise ports of Port Everglades and Port Canaveral into the mix and the industry’s contribution to Florida’s economy clearly shines through the clouds, a vision of approximately $43 billion annually.
When major players in the industry took preemptive action by halting operations, it marked an unprecedented moment in 60+ years of cruising. The total shutdown left hundreds of thousands of Americans without employment and billions of dollars in ship investments floating dormant in ports around the world. A 30 day pause turned into 60 and 60 into 100, with a concrete return date still in limbo. But rest assured they will sail again and when they do vacationing at sea will return with renewed popularity.
Taking up the challenge in the world’s new environment, cruise lines are using this down time to implement enhanced hygiene protocols that make it an even safer way to travel. Historically low pricing and perks like open bar, onboard spending credits and spa passes are only a few of the benefits being offered that reflect the increased value in cruising as a vacation.
There are hundreds of ships around the globe awaiting their return to service, each one regardless of size, offering colossal accouterments to pamper and entertain guests. What other vacation venue can offer activities like go-kart racing, rock climbing, indoor parachuting or laser tag fun paired with gourmet dining and lavish entertainment in spectacular theaters.
The transformation of cruising’s profile from a retreat for an older generation to a trendy vacation for young professionals and fast paced action for families is an amazing accomplishment. It’s not only the onboard initiatives that encourage cruisers to return but the new trend is adding private island escapes to already impressive itineraries. The arms race is on to see who can build the best tropical paradise.
The adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” has never been more appropriate than in the current environment. The world we knew may be different when we emerge from this temporary isolation but the silver lining is that cruising will be there waiting for us. While we are now secluded from doing things we do on a regular basis, there is nothing stopping us from dreaming about when and where we will travel and better days ahead. Take it from those of us that know the joys of cruising, the return will be a celebration of renewal offering a vacation of a lifetime.
–Bill Panoff, Porthole Cruise Magazine