COVID-19 has been detected on at least two cruise ships, in the Arctic and the Pacific, just weeks after cruising holidays restarted. This could lead to more restrictions being put in place and consumer confidence falling to an all-time low.
In June, the Norwegian government officially announced that it will allow “Hurtigruten and other cruise” lines to carry foreign passengers along the coast of Norway. Ships are not allowed to make port calls or land passengers or crew. However, they will be able to offer activities in Norwegian waters, such as kayaking, using the ships’ equipment.
Just over a month later, at least 41 passengers and crew on a Hurtigruten cruise have tested positive for COVID-19. 178 passengers were allowed to leave the ship in Tromsø, triggering a complex operation to locate them in order to contain any potential spread. Meanwhile, 340 passengers and crew have been confined on a cruise ship in Tahiti after one traveler tested positive for coronavirus.
There has been lots of attention on the stringent measures and positive work that cruise ships are doing to prevent outbreaks onboard. However, this appears to not have worked. According to GlobalData’s latest Coronavirus Recovery Consumer Survey, 78% of global respondents are still ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about the ongoing pandemic. These latest cases could easily destroy the little confidence that consumers had in the industry, something that would be devastating for cruise companies.
The latest news could mean that many customers that were not deterred from cruising after the initial outbreaks in February may decide to no longer travel.
Cruise companies are under serious financial strain
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Carnival Corp. lost $4.4 billion in the quarter ending May 31st. Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings revealed a 2nd quarter net income loss of $1.9bn.
These figures highlight the enormous financial pressure that COVID-19 has put cruise companies under. Companies will be desperate for business to carry on as usual, however, the latest outbreak will only hinder the process. If there are more high-profile outbreaks on cruise ships it could make it extremely difficult for the industry to recover.
Cruise companies need to ensure they have covered all bases when rolling out enhanced health procedures, customer confidence is going to be low so this provides an opportunity for companies to regain trust by ensuring all concerns have been addressed going forward.