Cruise Lines Get Ready to Sail Again
Cruise lines are planning to resume sailings in the Mediterranean with significant changes to their ports of call, policies, and procedures. The European Maritime Safety Agency and EU Healthy Gateways have provided guidance along with local governments to allow cruise lines to create and implement new health and safety protocols for their guests, crew, and destinations which they visit.
After the disruption to cruising, it is exciting to see solid plans in place for many cruise lines. Marella Cruises hopes to resume sailing from Corfu in October and have introduced the ‘Marella Promise’ to give their guests the confidence to cruise again. The UK-based operator plans to sail again on October 2, 2020 pending UK government travel advice changes. They have also made a decision to eliminate ports that require quarantining; “The cruise won’t go ahead if we are going somewhere you have to quarantine on arrival or return,” explained Amy Dowling, senior PR manager, marketing and customer experience at TUI UK & Ireland.
When the Marella Explorer starts in Corfu, the passengers from the UK will travel on TUI flights and will have to complete a health questionnaire to fly. Upon arrival, the ‘Marella Promise’ will be evident with new health and safety measures such as a health screening with temperature checks, they may be asked to wear masks onboard or ashore, and they will have less capacity in order to comply with social distancing measures. Onboard, there will be one-way systems, additional sanitizer stations, luggage will be sanitized before being delivered to cabins, and additional sanitizing throughout the ship. Chris Hackney, managing director of Marella Cruises, said: “We understand some customers may feel a little uncertain about cruising and wonder what a cruise will be like post-COVID, which is why we have created the new Marella Promise.’
The Italian government has also taken the step forward to authorize the restart of cruising. Costa Crociere prepares to gradually restart its operations with new protocols in place. Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia said: “We are extremely excited that we will be able to cruise again soon and we want to thank the Italian government and all the authorities for their constant availability and support.” Cruising has an undeniable value to the Italian ports and their businesses. Thamm said, “The gradual restart of our operations will give relief to the local economies in port communities and to the whole ecosystem of almost 5,000 suppliers and business partners, and over 7,500 travel agents, in Italy, who have been suffering from the pause of our activities.” Costa now has the authority to sail again and will keep in mind the responsibility they have to their guests, crew, and residents of the communities they visit. They will implement the protocols issued by the Italian government and will soon announce their full program to start sailing again.
Another cruise line ready to set sail in the Mediterranean is MSC Cruises, starting with MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica. New health and safety protocols will be implemented for MSC Cruises with additional measures to make their cruises successful. Some of the notable protocols include COVID-19 swab testing, limited approved ports of call, ability to only go ashore on MSC shore excursions, and only allowing cruise passengers from Schengen zone countries.
Crew and passenger testing will be crucial to ensuring a safe and successful cruise for all. In the event that either a passenger or crew member does show symptoms of illness, MSC Cruises has enhanced medical facilities onboard to include the ability to test and treat for COVID-19 patients with dedicated isolated cabins. They have also added a contingency response plan with local authorities according to the local and national regulations.
The new protocols for MSC Cruises have taken into consideration the concerns of local communities and this is shown with the limitation of passengers allowed in the ports. Initially, they plan to only allow passengers ashore on planned MSC shore excursions and by doing so, eliminating the number of venues being visited and limiting the use of public transportation.
Cruise lines are not taking this restart lightly. The enhanced protocols are in place to protect everyone from the guests, crew, and local communities, while also keeping in mind the economies that rely so heavily on the cruise industry. The need to resume is urgent, but the need to keep everyone safe is also of high importance, and this combination is exactly what cruise lines are putting into place to restart.
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.