A former assistant secretary for travel and tourism in the US Department of Commerce, Kelly Craighead was appointed president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in January 2019, a time in which the global cruise industry contributed $150 billion to economies around the world. Since mid-March, however, cruising operations throughout the globe have been delayed and cancelled as the sector strives to safeguard itself from further financial harm inflicted by COVID-19. We speak to the CLIA president about the challenges of combating the novel coronavirus and what a vaccine means for global cruising in the long-term.
Shipbuilding, maintenance & repair:
Despite orders being delayed, postponed and cancelled, 16 new cruise ships were delivered in 2020. With an impressive roster of ships set to be unveiled in 2021, even if some might not be leaving port for months, shipbuilders continue to produce vessels amidst the chaos of COVID-19. We ask Vard chief executive Alberto Maestrini and managing director of the Meyer Werft shipyard Tim Meyer about the challenges of working during a pandemic, the effect a vaccine has had on order numbers and how demands in design are changing to accommodate the current crisis.
With its inaugural voyage scheduled for April 24, Mardi Gras is Carnival Cruise Lines’ largest ever ship, weighing in at 180,000-gross-tonnes and capable of housing 5,200-passengers. Size is not its only defining feature, however. The Excel-class ship will be one of the most environmentally friendly in North America and the first to run on liquefied natural gas. We speak to Tom Strang, Carnival Corporation's senior vice president and CEO of Meyer Turku, Tim Meyer, about the challenges of building this vast eco-friendly vessel.
A gradually evolving field, cruise ship design remained largely consistent pre-pandemic especially on larger vessels, with subtle tweaks being made to make ships more accommodating and efficient. In the age of COVID-19, however, architects rethinking cruise ship design for a new era. What might this look like in the immediate future and what impact might current events have on the long-term vision for ship design? We speak to the next generation of designers making these necessary changes a tangible reality.
With many large cruise liners dry docked for the foreseeable future and towns and cities along more populated routes facing an endless spree of lockdowns, the expedition cruise sector looks well placed to capitalise on an eco-friendly clientele yearning for more intrepid forms of travel. We speak to Sven Lindblad, founder and president of Lindblad Expeditions and Aurora Expeditions CEO Monique Ponfoort about adapting the traditional company model to suit the current climate and ask whether the expedition sector might thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Alternative fuels such as Liquid nitrogen gas (LNG) have received ample publicity of late, touted as a sure-fire way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cruising more eco-friendly. Now a group of Norwegian companies is taking things a step further striving to develop the World’s first liquid hydrogen fuel cell. We speak to Stein Ruben Larsen, senior vice president sales at Norwegian Electrical Systems (NES) and R&D manager at Havyard Design & Solutions AS (HDS) Kristian Steinsvik about the implications of this radical new technology.
Safety at sea:
The need to safeguard operations is now an integral part of the cruise industry’s focus as operators strive to protect passengers and staff from contracting Covid-19. Alongside staple procedures such as social distancing and antigen testing, cruise lines are working with medical experts and world-renowned epidemiologists to enhance their understanding of the virus. We talk to Calvin Johnson, public health and chief medical officer at Royal Caribbean and Dr. Arthur L. Reingold, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health about the insights this collaboration has brought and the challenges in preventing further outbreaks.
After implementing rigorous health and safety protocols to protect guests from Covid-19, river cruisers were among the first set of vessels to resume sailing across Europe. Due to the increasing demand for shorter excursions with fewer passengers onboard many have tipped the river cruise market to build on those early signs of revival as traditional ocean cruisers opt to take to the Rhine and the Danube instead of the high seas. We speak to AmaWaterways president and co-founder Rudi Schreiner and Tui UK & Ireland, managing director of cruise, Chris Hackney, about how river cruising is capitalising on a pent up demand for aquatic excursion.
While pre-pandemic stage shows at sea were getting more ambitious, with cruise lines delivering high-calibre renditions of West End and Broadway productions, these services have been delayed for some time. Now with a handful of ships resuming activity, including Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, entertainment directors are recalibrating their shows for a time of social distancing while striving to maintain the familiar structure of beloved performances. We speak to Richard Ambrose, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ vice-president of entertainment, and Nick Weir, senior vice president of entertainment for Royal Caribbean International and ask how the show can go on against the odds.
Food & beverage:
Dining sits at the heart of cruising, with buffets, shared seating, and sundowners and pre-dinner drinks staple parts of the onboard experience. To what extent are protocols around food and beverage changing onboard cruise vessels in the wake of Covid-19 and what creative culinary concepts might emerge as a result? We speak to Wes Cort, the vice president of food and beverage for Norwegian Cruise Lines and Cornelius Gallagher, Michelin-starred chef and vice president of food and beverage for Celebrity Cruises to explore what form post-pandemic dining might take.
Ports & destinations:
With its dwindling R rate and world renowned tracing system, New Zealand continues to function largely virus free. Now it is rebooting its cruising industry, albeit at limited capacity and the establishment of a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of 2021 looks set to help cruise companies capitalise on a well-established tradition for Trans-Tasman cruising. We ask Sarina Bratton, chair of Asia Pacific for Ponant and Debbie Summers, chair of the New Zealand Cruise Association about the logistical challenges of ensuring a safe resumption of cruising operations.
Editorial content is subject to change.