Cruising has made a comeback. Here’s what lies ahead for the industry

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(CNN) – After two years of relentlessly navigating stormy seas, the cruise industry – one of the most epidemic-affected tourist destinations – is predicting a significantly smoother journey ahead.

The name of the game is to cope with the constant epidemic pressures and increasingly urgent demands around climate action, industry innovation and adaptation.

Following a 15-month long epidemic lockdown period, ships began sailing from US ports again last summer, albeit without shock. The CDC issued its strongest travel warning Around cruise journeys during the Omicron surge in December (e.g.).
According to the leading global cruise industry trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), with more than 75% of its member ships returning to service, is expected to return to the water by the end of almost all summer.
It was launched in March 2022 by the Valiant Lady of the Virgin Voyages.

It was launched in March 2022 by the Valiant Lady of the Virgin Voyages.

Greg Wolsteinholm / Bow Media / Shutterstock

The CLIA predicts that by the end of 2023, not only will the number of passengers be reached, but it will also exceed pre-epidemic levels. And according to Cruise Industry News’ cruise ship orderbook, about 40 new ships are in line to debut alone this year. More than 75 ships are on order by 2027.

Industry insiders say there is a demand for paint-up cruisers.

“The industry only operated for a month and a half in 2020, and partially in 2021, so there are essentially more than 20 months of cruise passengers who have not received their vacation,” explains Monty Mathisen, managing editor of the cruise industry. News.

Colin McDaniel, Editor-in-Chief of the leading cruise review website Cruise Critic, Says, “We’re seeing buyers and cruise bookings grow every week, which is great news for the industry.”

Sure, if with a slightly different look and feel, wandering is back. The future of cruising here is currently 2022 and beyond.

Continuous epidemic-driven protocol

CNN’s Natasha Chen reports this morning on Celebrity Edge, the first cruise ship to leave a U.S. port in more than 15 months.

Cruise lines have implemented strict health and safety measures in response to the epidemic, with CLIA spokeswoman Laziza Lambert saying “the Covid-19 has some of the highest levels of mitigation compared to any other business setting.”

As a result, consumer confidence is high, McDaniel says.

“In cruisers, we are told that they feel more comfortable than flying, staying in a hotel, attending an indoor event and attending a house party with many guests outside their family,” says the editor.

Those measures include vaccination commands, pre-cruise testing, advanced ventilation systems, deep-cleaning protocols, and removal of high-touch surfaces (for example, Buffets is now operated by crew rather than self-service). Some lines still need masking and social gaps are encouraged by low capacity, although those policies are getting easier.

“I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about ships being less than full, and how it has made the onboard experience better,” says Mathisen, adding that “it will be over soon.”

But some new measures of congestion-reduction are likely to stick around, and prove to be a vacation value-add for travelers, such as the location of individual muster drills with more streamlined boarding and virtual in travel.

Passengers check in on their cruise on June 26, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  The Celebrity Edge was the first cruise ship to leave the U.S. port since the coronavirus epidemic brought the industry to a 15-month stagnation.

Passengers check in on their cruise on June 26, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Celebrity Edge was the first cruise ship to leave the U.S. port since the coronavirus epidemic brought the industry to a 15-month stagnation.

Marta Lavender / AP

“Many of the pain points of the cruise experience were around the first day – check-in, muster, etc.,” says Mathisen, and it all has a new look.

Given the patchwork of shifting international restrictions around cruise ship access, the continued impact of the epidemic on tourism plans is also significant. Promising for the industry, some major destinations, including Canada and Australia, are lifting the cruise ship ban in 2022 for the first time in two years.

Many ports will require vaccination proofs or negative Covid-19 tests for passengers to land – and port policies may change with the flow and flow of epidemic waves.

McDaniel says that because of such instability, flexible cancellation policies are the number one consideration for cruisers. However, she advises: “Cruise lines are starting to change their cancellation policies that we saw earlier in the epidemic, so it’s important to make sure you are aware of the policy of your choice before you book.”

Greener Ship Technology

The fast-growing cruise sector is facing growing scrutiny around its major contributors to air and water pollution. Recent studies have found A large cruise ship has a carbon footprint larger than 12,000 cars).
In November, CLIA’s offshore cruise lines are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, according to the United Nations. Net-zero global emission targets For that year. Yet the industry’s continued reliance on highly polluted heavy fuel oil (HFO) is an obstacle to its decarbonization goals.

Pioneer Cruise Lines is now pursuing a variety of new and more sustainable alternative energy sources to green their fleet, including electric batteries, biofuel and hydrogen fuel cells.

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The Norwegian-based Hertigruten is behind the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship, the three-year-old MS Roald Amundsen; The company has since added two more hybrid ships, three more to come, and announced plans for a zero-emission ship by 2030. They banned HFO a decade ago, and are currently experimenting with biofuels.

MS Roald Amundsen of Hertigruten in Deutsche Bay, Antarctica.

MS Roald Amundsen of Hertigruten in Deutsche Bay, Antarctica.

Oscar Ferreira

Esta Lassen, CEO of Hertigruten Expeditions, says the company hopes to lead by example because “the only way forward for the cruise industry is to be more sustainable.”

“Unfortunately, we see large sections of the cruise industry dragging their feet, powering ships that pollute heavy fuel oil and simultaneously flooding small communities with thousands of people,” she adds.

Some like-minded cruise lines are joining the ranks, such as the luxury line Ponton, which introduced the electric hybrid ship last year, and the Upscale Silvercy cruise, which has a hybrid ship for 2023. Meanwhile, the Italian mainstream line MSC Cruise has ambitions to develop. The world’s first hydrogen-powered cruise ship.

CLIA reports that more than half of the industry’s new cruise ships will rely on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Yet industry watchdogs like Marcy Keaver at environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth warn that LNG is just one distraction and another significant pollutant.

“The cruise industry shifting to LNG will shut them down for another 30 to 40 years in failed fossil-fuel technology,” she says.

The industry is also monitoring emissions-reduction measures through noise-power connectivity, which allows ships to turn off their engines and plug in when they are in port. CLIA will enable 174 ships with such connectivity by 2027 – although currently 14 global ports are capable with compatible infrastructure.

Small ships

Even before the epidemic, cruisers were an attraction for smaller, more intimate ships, with the blessings of riverboats and expedition ships now on order.

Existing cruise lines such as the Viking and Seaborn are entering the expedition market this year, while brand new brands such as the Atlas Ocean Voyages and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection are expanding the space of the small ship.

The Viking's two new expedition ships each have luxury honors suites.

The Viking’s two new expedition ships each have luxury honors suites.


Despite the premium price, these smaller ships offer a distinct attraction to the post-epidemic world, such as less crowds and access to more bizarre, bucket-list locales that are otherwise inaccessible to larger cruise ships.

They also help address over-tourism, which was a major problem facing the industry before Covid and has since led to popular port cities. Venice And ban key West cruise ship access.

“Simply put, size matters,” says Lesesen of Hertigruten. “An expedition cruise ship has smaller footprints than a mega-ship.”

Contactless technology

The epidemic has also accelerated the technological revolution on cruise ships, with new digitized features enabling a more friendly – and contactless – environment onboard.

Smartphones and wearable tech such as bracelets or medallions are now twice as common as boarding passes and keycards; Some wearable devices allow guests to track travel companions onboard.

In restaurants, QR codes are replacing traditional printed menus, while cruise line mobile apps are constantly evolving to help cruisers book meals, spa treatments, shows, activities and excursions at the push of a button.

Bottom line

McDaniel thinks the industry is in a good position to navigate any epidemic-related challenges that may arise.

“Based on the trends we’ve seen around variables, their impact on bookings has a shorter shelf life,” she says. “So expecting the same pattern to continue, we can expect the industry to be in good shape.”

However, when it comes to sustainability, experts like Kaver say the industry still has a long way to go.

“Sadly, there is an incredible amount of green washing going on,” she says. is needed.”

What is certain is that there are high economic stakes associated with the resilience of the industry.

According to the CLIA, the pre-pandemic cruise sector contributed $ 154 billion to the global economy – that number dropped by almost 60% to $ 63.4 billion by 2020 and lost half of the cruise-supported jobs worldwide (total 576,000).

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