Cruises to destinations like Edinburgh, Scotland are expected to be popular with UK guests when ships start sailing again
Although the world is still facing the challenges presented by the global Covid-19 crisis, 2021 brings hope to many who are looking forward to the time when we can travel once again.
It has almost been a year since the cruise industry came to a halt, as lines across the globe voluntarily paused operations. Since that time, cruise lines have been working tirelessly to identify solutions for a safe return to sea.
Cruise lines, working closely through Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), have been laying down a framework of best practices and policies that will ensure cruising can be as safe a holiday – if not more so – than other travel alternatives.
With much pent-up demand from the UK market, and the nation’s mass vaccination programme helping to build consumer confidence, cruise lines are reporting strong bookings from UK passengers for 2021. When cruise lines start to resume operations, it will be done in a gradual and phased-in manner, with ships taking guests to nearby regions such as the British Isles, Norway and Scandinavia. At Princess Cruises, bookings for our round-Britain and Baltic itineraries are doing incredibly well as guests feel more confident travelling closer to home.
The draw of being able to start and finish a holiday from the UK is particularly appealing to our guests this year, aided by the fact that we will have two of our Royal-class ships homeported in Southampton, England for the 2021 season. They include Sky Princess – one of our newest ships to join the fleet – and Regal Princess.
The cruise industry’s top priority has always been the health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit.
To plan our business, Princess Cruises is in active conversations with health and regulatory bodies and key stakeholders in all of the destinations we visit. When we return to service, we want to make sure we’re in alignment, and that we have all agreed to practices and layers of protection that will enable us to host a safe and comfortable experience.
We continue to work in close collaboration with local authorities and tour operators to ensure the enhanced health and safety measures onboard are maintained ashore, and destinations can feel assured that best practices of health and hygiene are always applied.
Furthermore, by leveraging our OceanMedallion technology, we are transforming the embarkation process. The OceanMedallion, which was designed to create seamless cruise experiences for our guests, now lends itself well to travelling in a socially distanced world. In future, guests will be able to select their arrival time at the terminal, helping to stagger boarding and avoid crowds.
As operators like Princess Cruises plan for the safe resumption of cruising, it’s important to note that the industry is a vital artery to national and local economies across the globe. In the UK alone, our industry generates £10 billion ($13.9 billion) for the economy every year and supports over 88,000 jobs across a wide ecosystem of industries and sectors. Many small to medium-sized businesses rely heavily on cruise for income. CLIA’s 2021 State of the Industry report found that passengers spend an average of £282 ($394) in their port of embarkation and £73 ($102) in each destination they visit during their cruise.
While the return to cruising is not going to be like flipping a light switch, the implementation of strict health and safety measures, combined with the accelerated distribution of the vaccine, means we can be hopeful that by summer we will begin to see the successful and safe restart of operations around the world. And, when the time is right for cruise operations to safely resume, cruising will be an important contributor to fuelling the global economic and societal recovery.
Tony Roberts is vice president of Princess Cruises UK & Europe, and chair of CLIA UK & Ireland
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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