Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2020

2 6 Cruising past the pandemic Should cruise lines offer historically successful itineraries or take guests on the road less travelled to win business back? Rebecca Gibson asks executives from Marella Cruises and Mystic Cruises W hen the Covid-19 pandemic halted all cruise operations around the world in early 2020, many predicted that the subsequent travel restrictions and health and safety fears would curb travellers’ wanderlust for years to come. However, many cruise operators have since reported the opposite, receiving bookings for cruises in 2021 and beyond. “We expect there will be huge demand for travel once the uncertainty ends because people love exploring new places,” says Neil Duncan, head of trading and planning at Marella Cruises. “Some guests may prefer to take cruises that are closer to home than in the past, but most will be happy to go globe- trotting again.” Another operator that has seen renewed interest in cruising is Mystic Cruises, which owns a fleet of ocean and expedition cruise ships that are chartered out on long-term contracts to international brands such as Quark Expeditions and Germany-based line Nicko Cruises. Mystic Cruises also owns Atlas Ocean Voyages, which operates as its sales and marketing arm in the USA. “Initially, the pandemic halted everything but now that we’re seeing businesses reopening around the world and some cruise operations resuming safely in Europe, travellers are becoming more confident and our charter partners have seen some increased bookings for 2021,” says James Cabello, operations and product development executive at Mystic Cruises. To help entice cruise guests back to the seas, Marella Cruises and Mystic Cruises’ and its charter partners have all developed new health and safety procedures that will allow them to mitigate the spread of the virus on their ships, while still delivering enjoyable cruise experiences. “Our charter partners have been very creative and introduced a range of FEATURE