The cruise industry has announced that worldwide operations will return to 80% by the end of the year
Out of the cruise industry’s 220 ocean-going ships, many of these are projected to return to service with passengers by the end of December 2021.
16% of MSC Cruises’ fleet was operating in June, said executive chairman and global chair of CLIA Pierfrancesco Vago. Operations for the company are currently at 56% (September 2021), with MSC projecting to reach 80% before 2022.
Speaking at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami – and also online – Vago told delegates that 30 million passengers were carried annually through the industry before the global pandemic, with service resuming in summer 2020 and carrying two million customers.
“The future is bright for all of us here,” Vago said. “We have emerged as one of the world’s safest holidays,” noting the industry’s global work to introduce strict health and safety protocols.
With unsteady vaccination programmes in the southern hemisphere, however, Vago said bookings for winter aren’t as strong as usual. “Spring 2022 bookings are coming back and 2023 is better; stronger volumes are coming in,” he said.
Royal Caribbean Group’s chairman and chief executive, Richard Fain, has said he expects the company to be running at 100% by the end of the year within its core markets, adding that it’s “very important to get the fly-wheel going” and get cruises booked in for peak periods. “We need that period of stability; getting more ships operating is a good way to do that. Also, word of mouth is important; people are coming back from these cruises and raving about them.”
Also on the panel was Arnold Donald, president and chief executive of Carnival Corporation. Donald said the industry was heading towards a “brighter future” but that we should expect “potholes and detours” along the way.
The panelists agreed that customer satisfaction was higher than ever since the introduction of health and safety protocols, with some measures set to remain after the pandemic.
Environmental credits was a key issue raised by the panelists, a topic recently raised by MSC, who have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. CLIA’s Vago said: “We have not lost sight of the need to press forward in the area of sustainability.”
During the discussion, the panel also welcomed the arrival of Virgin Voyages, which launched in Summer 2021.