Cunard Line announced it is extending its suspension of sailing, which includes cancellation of its entire 2020 Alaska season. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, this is undeniably the right action.
The future is extremely uncertain as the lengths of all travel restrictions remain very much unclear. Once travel restrictions are eased, the cruise industry will likely be subject to a slow recovery period as prospective customers will be travelling domestically instead.
Other cruise liners are extending suspensions as updates emerge and Covid-19-related news evolves. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises act as examples here, announcing extensions until September. This is sensible considering the current situation within the cruise industry.
Although the suspensions being put in place by cruise companies are undoubtedly the correct decision, the longer they need to be put in place, the harder it becomes to achieve survival.
Cruise liners should be concentrating on their brand image as this has been upended by media sources characterising cruise ships as ‘ocean-going Petri dishes’. Various cruise liners such as Princess Cruises have reflected the image of human tragedy with confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the recent past.
Social media will be key to restoring the brand image of cruise liners. 21% of consumers said they are spending significantly more time on social media than before.
Cunard Line, owned by Carnival Corporation should use social media platforms to promote health and safety, showing that the company cares from a social perspective. Running campaigns like this, it will prove to provide a competitive advantage. Possessing a heavy social media presence will also allow the cruise company to engage and promote to followers, which will be beneficial for maximising bookings in the future.
The cruise industry is far from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and will face more challenging months with little to no revenue and will probably have to extend suspensions. It will be wise to use this downtime effectively by restoring a positive company image.