Various pictures from around the world have defined the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, some of the most gripping pictures are not from balconies or celebrities, rather, they are from sailors and passengers trapped on board vessels at sea.
Considering the enclosed nature of space aboard most ships, ocean cruisers, and liners, they are often fertile grounds for the transmission of a contagious disease like the Coronavirus. Contact between crew, attendants, and passengers is nearly unavoidable since they share the same space for days or even weeks over which most sea voyages last.
To make matters worse, at the beginning of the virus outbreak, a good number of countries refused to allow ship entries into their ports. The fear of having a renewed outbreak from infected inhabitants of the vessels informed this decision, leaving these passengers stranded at sea with limited medical attention.
Some of the reported stories were pathetic.as the virus spread, and infected passengers ended up losing their lives due to the inability to get proper medical care.
The effect of these sad stories on the maritime industry, especially the luxury world of ocean cruises, has been negative. Lots of potential travellers by sea have already decided against booking trips at least until a reasonable solution is found to the pandemic.
Now the big question, does this signal the end for Ocean Cruises?
The most likely answer is, no. While people are rightly careful about getting on a ship for their next vacation, they would still gladly get on a cruise; provided they can be assured of their safety and protection from the virus. Hence, it only becomes a question of regaining the confidence of travellers and assuring them that ocean cruises are not COVID-19 hotspots.
To give customers this level of confidence, the whole set-up of ocean cruises will have to change in the following ways:
Less socializing: Regrettably, one of the most enjoyable parts of sea travel might end up becoming obsolete due to COVID-19. Buffet style dinners on the deck with music and lots of wine- while staring into the depths of the sea is exactly the kind of events that will have to be discontinued. This will be necessary to reduce mingling at sea, and the spread of the virus.
Increased Health Checks: Either at ports of entry and exit, before boarding the ship, and while arriving at travel destinations, extensive health checks will be conducted to prevent allowing infected persons in.
Virtual and Augmented Reality: To make up for the missing on-deck effects, ocean cruises might begin to consider immersive technologies to deliver the full experience to clients regardless of circumstances. Simulations of rippling waves or the sound of rushing water might bring the experience of standing on the deck into individual cabins.
Increased Exclusivity: On traditional cruises, features like room service may become necessities rather than luxuries. Taking it further, some companies may provide more exclusive ocean cruise options for smaller groups or even families. Of course, these will cost more, but it’ll be worth it for people who enjoy ocean rides so much and can afford them.
We can’t wait to see which other changes will come to ocean cruises in a post-COVID-19 world.