One of the world’s largest cruise companies states that boarding a ship requires coronavirus vaccination.
“We expect all eligible guests to be vaccinated,” Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean, told the BBC.
Cruising is a global industry that was worth $ 150 billion before the pandemic and has supported the employment of about 1.2 million people.
The United States is the largest market in the industry, almost completely closed by a pandemic.
In 2019, 46.5% of the record 29.7 million people on the cruise
Is it safer than home?
Fine hopes that a variety of new safety measures, such as reducing capacity, increasing social distance, and strengthening the cleaning process, will encourage many of them to return soon.
“The combination of vaccines and testing and contact tracing, all these types of protocols really help us achieve our goal of cruising more safely than your home community.”
“I think it’s more comfortable to walk on a boat than to walk on the main street.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal public health agency, is working closely with the industry to resume voyages.
In the past few weeks, the CDC has given detailed instructions on how cruise operators can test run to test the coronavirus protocol. Alternatively, it states that if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are vaccinated, the voyage can be resumed.
In a statement, he said he was working towards “the US passenger business is expected to resume by midsummer.”
“The CDC acknowledges that cruising cannot be a risk-free activity for the Covid-19 epidemic,” he added.
was there Occurrence on some cruises Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been traveling around the world. Royal Caribbean accepted more than 150,000 passengers during the pandemic and reported only 21 cases of coronavirus.
All voyages from locations such as the Canary Islands, Germany and Singapore are “going nowhere cruises” and do not berth at other ports.
But Fain believes this will change soon. “Ports around the world are opening rapidly.
“It’s actually a very important part of cruising and the opportunity to go elsewhere.”
Fine acknowledges that as things open up, more incidents can occur on cruise ships. “It can be a Covid-19 on board, just as it can be a Covid-19 on land.” Therefore, he says, steps are taken to isolate the symptomatic passengers.
“If that happens on board … you’ll be treated just like you’re on land, which will prevent this from becoming a bigger outbreak.”
Outside of the CDC’s authority, voyages from several Caribbean islands in Greece and in the waters of the United Kingdom will be subject to a new safety protocol for Sterner testing in the coming weeks. This means that 13 of the company’s 59 vessels are in operation.
The lack of voyage means that Royal Caribbean, which holds about 25% of the global cruise market, has lost more than $ 6.8 billion since the pandemic began. In contrast, the company reported a profit of $ 1.7 billion in 2019.
It also meant raising over $ 12 billion from investors to keep the company alive. Rivals such as Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line are experiencing similar financial distress.
“I think it’s enough to look at us during these terrible times,” says Fain.
“I didn’t like having to do that, but given the terrible market and zero-income companies, I was impressed with how fast we could do it. “
Royal Caribbean feels that fiscal improvement is imminent. Bookings are almost back to pre-pandemic levels and customers are paying higher fares. This shows strong long-term demand.
Monique Giese, who tracks the shipping industry at consultancy KPMG, says it is important for the industry for cruise ships to return to the sea this summer, especially before the Caribbean and Mediterranean weather improves.
“If they didn’t sail this year, I think many cruise operators would go bankrupt, and it’s decisive which brand is the strongest,” she says.
“Most cruise ships operate different brands, and I don’t think all of them survive today. Moreover, many suppliers, not just the cruise industry itself, are suffering.”
Many of the people working in the cruise industry are crew members who have returned to their homes around the world and sought alternative jobs during a pandemic. But Fein doesn’t think he will face a staff shortage.
“They are really anxious to come back. Even those who go and find other jobs say,” Oh, I’m really happy. I can go back to the ship. ” And as we take those steps, we are reassured that we can continue to carry them as before. “
Fein said that getting the industry up and running The type of document the aviation industry is looking for..
“I don’t think we’re talking about vaccine passports. I think we’re talking about people who are vaccinated, and there are many different ways to show that.”
He does not believe that there are security issues around paper documents issued to show that the vaccine was administered in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
When asked about counterfeiting, he replied, “I don’t think many would even care about doing so.”
“We actually surveyed our guests, and the vast majority of people who booked our cruises are already vaccinated and they volunteer for it, they want it. And people want a place where they can go where they know. ”Safe. “
A full interview with Richard Fein is “Talking about business with Aaron Hesslhurst“This weekend’s BBC World News Saturday 23:30 GMT, Sunday 05:30 and 16:30 GMT, Monday 06:30 GMT and 10:30 GMT, Tuesday 12:30 GMT.