What does the Corona Virus vaccine mean for the global cruise industry?
Whilst the announcement from the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA for the approval of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and the latest clinical trial data from the Oxford Vaccine Group and Astra Zeneca is good news, globally other countries through different regulatory stand-points and process will probably result in vaccines being available at varying stages throughout 2021; not withstanding the challenges represented in storage and distribution domestically. And so, it is evident that the cruise industry will slowly bring voyages back in service when restrictions on travel ease country by country; however one thing is certain, it will not be a global program of reinstatement running in parallel. Every country will re-emerge economically at a different pace. According to Travel Pulse, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises have further cancelled all sailings through February 2021, with full operations predicted to resume in March 2021.
Good news for a sector that has been virtually paralysed for over 12 months with fleets mothballed and anchored in ports throughout the US and Europe. Crucially, as we witness voyages returning, will be consumer confidence and the need to focus on health and safety for guests, crew and the communities visited. The stark reality is that there will be an abundance of caution during 2021, with the cruise lines eager to return to some sense of normality, but tempered with the reality of returning to the seas under a phased plan. No question about it, the vaccines emerging are the start of calmer seas, however I suspect the full recovery will be prevalent towards the end of 2021; what is encouraging is evidence of demand and the fact the industry continues to invest in the fleet.