After the Storm

Despite a challenging year in 2020, there is optimism on the horizon. According to brand new 2021 State of the Cruise Industry outlook by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), two out of three cruisegoers are willing to cruise within a year and 58% of international vacationers, who have never cruised, are likely to cruise in the next few years.

Covid-19 crisis was felt very much on the waves, as cruise ships infected with the virus turned into “escape rooms” in the minds of the people. Looking at industry unemployment alone, last year every 1% loss of cruisers resulted in a reduction of 9,100 industry-related jobs. Each day of suspension caused direct and indirect industry losses of 2,500 jobs.

Nevertheless, the foundations of a strong industry have not disappeared overnight. In 2019, for example, cruising sustained 1,166,000 jobs, equaling $50.53 billion in wages and salaries and $154.5 billion total output worldwide.

The industry has adjusted. From early July through mid-December 2020, there were more than 200 sailings with multiple layers of enhanced measures in place. CLIA contends that the success of these initial sailings demonstrates new protocols are working as designed – to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 among passengers, crew and the destinations cruise ships visit.

And what’s in the cards for this year? CLIA anticipates the debut of 19 new ocean ships in 2021, resulting in a total of 270 CLIA Cruise Line ocean ships projected to be in operation by the end of the year. Looking ahead, this “Fleet of the Future” will feature enhanced health and safety cruise protocols for the resumption of passenger operations.

As the Covid crisis fades, we must renew our commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future. So far, we’ve seen a staggering $23.5 billion investment in ships with new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce carbon emissions. This, in itself, is a powerful statement that speaks volumes about the industry’s desire to well and truly tackle climate change.

This means, for instance, that half (49%) of new build capacity on order will rely on LNG fuel for primary propulsion – and almost all (99%!) of new ships on order will have Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems in place, bringing global capacity served by these systems to 78.5%.

Partnerships with local governments in key destinations are a big part of this green mindset. Ultimately, the cruise industry is committed to reducing its rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.

Petri Charpentier

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