Cruise to ‘take two years, not five’ to recover from pandemic

The global cruise industry looks set to recover to pre-pandemic levels within two years, according to the global boss of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia).

Before the pandemic hit, the cruise sector saw a record year in 2019, with many new ships set to be delivered to cater for growing demand.

Kelly Craighead, Clia president and chief executive, told a Travel Weekly webcast: “There’s very much a range of opinions on it but I think there is reason to be hopeful that this is a two-year problem, not a five-year problem.”

She added: “Our focus at Clia is very much on the support of our members of all varieties because without a thriving cruise community, it’s going to be tough to meet our full potential.

“But we’re resilient. It is going to take a tremendous amount of unity and resilience for us to get through the next nine, 12, 18 months.”

Alongside its lobbying of politicians and authorities around the world, the association has been continuing its work on professional development and training for travel agents, she commented.

“Our team’s ability to adapt to do virtual ship visits, to be able to connect agents to the cruise lines and start to help them make the case for cruise, for new-to-cruise travellers, has really benefited from our focus on this part of our membership that is critical to the industry’s success,” she said.

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When asked if the pandemic will result in permanent changes to cruising, she replied: “I was traveller before 9/11. I was a traveller after 9/11. I can only look to this experience as something equivalent to just how drastically travel changed overnight.

“I can only use that to predict that travelling in all segments will be different after the pandemic.

“Which of the protocols remain and which don’t will be dictated by the health advice of the authorities and other experts to help guide us.

“However it is changed forever, cruise will continue to be in that centre of excellence, the greatest way to see the world.

“I have 100% confidence that it is going to be the best way to see the world.”

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