The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt long after it finally ends, with or without a vaccine. Terms such as “social distancing” and others are now cemented in our vernacular. However, the change goes beyond societal terms and norms. Businesses in every industry will change with the times as well.
The first indication that the coronavirus made its way to the United States involved news coverage of cruise ships forced to dock, but not disembark passengers who contracted the illness. Since that revelation, business in the industry stagnated with many lawsuits filed by sick passengers and grieving loved ones.
Cruise ship lines are promising a comeback. However, promises of lower prices and fewer passengers will not be enough to satisfy fearful customers. Simply put, it will not be business as usual, as these businesses will have to change to reflect these unprecedented times.
A Commitment to Coming aboard Safely
Upon entering the ship, passengers could potentially have their temperature taken before boarding and be subject to medical screenings once the vessel sails. Another option is to have passengers undergo testing for COVID-19 before the trip and provide documentation that would allow them entry.
A significant segment of cruise ship passengers involves seniors. Post-pandemic, older people are now considered high risk of contracting the coronavirus and other afflictions. Many cruise lines took that step prior to ceasing operations in March with passengers 70 and older required to have letters from doctors verifying that they were fit to travel. That policy could continue.
Cruise ships are best known for their buffets that feature a wide array of food and drink. In a new era, passengers will not be serving themselves and potentially transmitting serious illnesses of any form. Those responsibilities will be left to staff adorned with masks and gloves. This is not necessarily a new phenomenon as past outbreaks have required these types of adjustments, just not permanently.
Beyond the buffet area, the overall cleanliness of a ship must now take center stage with processes and procedures that maintain the highest standards of hygiene. Washing and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are not enough. Encouraging customers to regularly wash their hands and make antibacterial gel readily available could mean the difference between safety and tragedy.
Fun in the sun does not have to turn into death on the ocean. For cruise ships, a temporary reaction will not suffice. This current pandemic mandates permanent and ongoing action, not to mention a willingness to change long-held standards and practices.