By Naseerah Nanabhai
There is no doubt that the global cruise industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the desire for cruising holidays to make a comeback, it remains uncertain as to when the industry will relaunch and allow travellers to set sail.
Last year, some cruise companies in Europe cautiously recommenced operations, they ran voyages with strict COVID-19 protocols, but sailings were cancelled when the second wave of Covid-19 hit Europe over the winter months. In the US, the CDC no-sail order was lifted in October 2020 and detailed regulations were subsequently announced for how cruising could return to US waters.
In South Africa, MSC Cruises had cancelled its remaining local sailings for the 2020/21 season after failing to get the green light from the government. The company had been hoping to salvage at least the end of the season – meant to run from November 2020 until mid-April 2021 – but is now confident it will be able to proceed with its next season, starting this November.
Cruises are considered high risk for COVID-19 infection as the susceptibility of cruise ships to the spread of infectious disease was already common knowledge before 2020, due to past outbreaks of norovirus at sea.
While the cruise industry has loyal fans, some travellers may feel nervous to return after reading reports of soaring on-board COVID-19 cases, stateroom-lockdowns and weeks searching for ports.
While it seems cruise ships will remain docked for the last part of the 2020/21 cruise season we can look forward to cruises being potentially operational again by November 2021.