It possible for the global cruise industry, worth $150bn annually, to get going again after the pandemic hit by implementing new safety measures, believes the chief of the biggest cruise company of the world.
Ever since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the world earlier this year, governments and new safety measures suspended ships from sailing in an effort to prevent the spread of infection which has brought the hugely profitable business virtually to its knees.
The risk of an outbreak aboard a cruise ship can be mitigated by “universal testing, which doesn’t exist in any other industry of scale”, said Arnold Donald, the chief executive of Carnival Corporation, in a television interview.
Among the further measures can be “additional medical screenings, physical distancing, mask wearing”, he added.
However, some of the few cruises that have set sail recently have seen outbreaks of Cvoid-19 which includes infections being reported from the Carnival-owned Costa Diadema which was on a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea.
Donald however also conceded that “you cannot guarantee that you’re going to be Covid-19 free no matter what regimen you put in place”.
He however insisted that “it can be managed and managed effectively” and that collaborating with authorities around the world means that has been done “reasonably effectively” so far.
A slew of health and scientific advisers for developing its protocols have been drafted by the company,
“Our priority, of course, is to make cruising work in a way where we have every confidence there’s no greater risk than if you were engaging in similar activity shore-side,” Donald said.
The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) had laid out the difficulties of achieving that. While announcing the lifting to the ban on sailing of cruise ships, the CDC said that without mitigations “cruise ships would continue to pose a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission than other settings”.
The crude industry has been hit hard at the early stages of the pandemic by two outbreaks on cruise ships. There were deaths of passengers because of the Covid-19 outbreaks aboard both the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined by Japan, and the Grand Princess, which eventually docked in California.
The basis of the optimism about the industry of Arnold us the loyal customer base that traditionally supports the cruise industry.
For the second half of next year “bookings have been robust. People really want to cruise when it’s safe to do so”, he said.
“We’re cautiously optimistic we’ll be sailing in early 2021”, albeit a few ships at a time, he added.
Currently about $650m a month is being lost by Carnival despite grounding 18 of its 105 ships. The company has raised more than $12bn from its investors.
“Even if we had zero revenue, we could go through in to the summer of next year”, Arnold said,
Except that there is very little revenue flowing into the company.
The huge uncertainty hanging over the industry is evident from the lack of paying passengers. The industry makes profits when thousands of passengers travel at a time and such passengers travel in relatively close confines. These are the two characteristics of the industry that cannot be depended on in pandemic times.
(Adapted from BBC.com)