Cruises start again The return of the dream ships
As of: 06/17/2021 3:52 p.m.
The cruise industry is trying to start over in small steps. Successful vaccinations and falling infection numbers are fueling hopes, but the way out of the crisis should not be an easy one.
By Thomas Spinnler, tagesschau.de
The cruise industry, along with the entire tourism sector, was one of the biggest losers in the pandemic. The entire business came to a standstill at times. The 7-day incidence values, which have recently fallen across Europe, and the vaccination campaign, the progress of which is becoming increasingly noticeable, are awakening hopes for a successful restart in 2021, both in the industry and among those interested in cruises. It is not excluded. Just yesterday, a cruise ship with guests left Hamburg for the first time in seven months . This morning went for the first time since the outbreak of the corona pandemic in front of Palma in Mallorca a cruise ship at anchor, the “Mein Schiff 2” of the German shipping company TUI Cruises. It is said to be the first of more than 20 who will be calling this port by the end of August.
Cruises despite Corona Dream ships in crisis mode
For years, cruise lines swam on a wave of success. That changed in the Corona crisis.
“Time was used”
“The chances of a real fresh start for the cruise industry are very good due to the measures that have been taken,” said Helge Grammerstorf, National Director of the Cruise Lines International Association Germany (Clia) tagesschau.de firmly. The providers used the time to expand the security measures against Corona, to keep the ships ready for the incoming operation and to strengthen the sustainability measures.
However, the memory of what happened during the start of the pandemic last year is likely to be fresh for many. Hundreds of vacationers were stuck on board, some for weeks, ports refused entry – the sometimes dramatic images are not so easy to forget.
Recovery in the pandemic Vacation bookings for summer don
Despite the increasing number of infections, bookings for vacation bookings for the summer are increasing.
“Safer than in the supermarket”
That is why protection against corona remains the determining issue on cruise ships. Grammerstorf is certain that health protection on the ships is guaranteed. Individual corona cases cannot be completely ruled out. But both staff and passengers would be tested before boarding, during the trip and also at the end of the trip.
“In principle, it is safer on the ship than when shopping in the supermarket, since the ships are completely sealed off from the outside,” says the Clia director. This also applies to shore excursions, which take place in closed groups that are not allowed to be left. “In the very rare event that a person should test positive during the voyage, it is provided that all affected persons and their contacts are taken off board to protect everyone else,” says Grammerstorf.
Corona easing Cruise industry comes to life
The first cruise ships leave again. However, passengers have to be prepared for some new hygiene rules.
The shipyards are also suffering
The industry is an important economic factor. In Germany alone, the ocean cruise business is worth billions. According to the association’s data, the area with around 48,000 employees generated around 6.6 billion euros in 2019. Above all, however, it represents 80 percent of orders from German shipyards.
The German shipbuilders were therefore hit hard by the crisis. Because many shipyards have specialized in the construction and maintenance of cruise ships. Jobs have also been cut, both at the shipyards and among the cruise lines.
Missing assignments Shipbuilding in the existential crisis
Corona has hit German shipbuilders hard because the construction of cruise ships comes to a standstill.
“Offers are accepted”
According to Clia, according to the latest available figures from September 2020, around 28,000 jobs have been lost, more than half. If the industry returns to a reasonably normal and predictable course of business, many will return. No wonder, then, when the hope of a new start becomes more and more urgent.
According to Grammerstorf, the customers are very enthusiastic about the offers, there is a great demand for cruises: “Demand pressure has built up while it was not possible to travel. The pre-bookings for 2022 are also very encouraging.” A more precise forecast is currently not possible, as the countries are only gradually opening up and therefore many departures are scheduled at short notice.
High costs, hardly any income
The business will hardly be profitable at first. No income, or at best low income, is offset by high running costs. After all, the ships cannot simply be completely decommissioned when they are in ports or in roadsteads. Some of the crew must remain on board, the ships must be kept functional, which requires regular and intensive maintenance. In addition, the huge passenger capacities of the ships cannot be used to their full capacity despite the start of travel activity due to the corona-related distance rules. Higher costs, also because of the various protective measures, are offset by lower income, which would have to be offset with higher prices. “At the moment, the main thing is to show that cruises can also take place safely under Corona conditions,” emphasizes Grammerstorf. The cruise operators have to accept that it is likely to be a losing business, at least initially