Learning from the pandemic: the luxury cruise market – cruise industry news
While luxury brands have been affected by the crisis in different ways, they have all faced similar challenges, including suspension of service, travel restrictions and shifting public perception, according to executives. ‘voicing in Miami last week.
Cruise lines, however, have managed to emerge stronger and better prepared, learning from the problems, including a new brand set to debut in 2023.
Chris Austin, US Sales Director for Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of MSC Cruises, highlighted the restart of MSC in Europe, pioneering the recovery of cruise services globally.
“There will be lessons from this, which Explora Journeys will obviously be able to adopt,” he said.
While the design of MSC’s new brand and new luxury product began before the pandemic, the current situation may lead to changes in the end result.
“The requirement for confidentiality has increased,” Austin said, noting the importance of designing ships capable of delivering it, using, for example, “access to smaller spaces”.
“I think we’ve used our time very wisely throughout this (period),” he added.
Silversea Cruises, on the other hand, had two ships in the final stages of construction when the pandemic first broke out.
The handling of this problem during the period has been “quite different”, according to Roberto Martinoli, president and CEO of Silversea.
With travel restrictions in place, technicians who typically boarded ships to assess systems and equipment had to do so by video call, he said.
By working with these solutions, the ships were delivered without “much delay,” Martinoli noted.
“It has been a learning curve, but the most important thing has been to see the flexibility of the shipyards, who have been able to continue the construction processes with a lot of challenges, using these new ways of doing business”, he added.
Delivered in 2020, the Silver Origin and Silver Moon did not see their first groups of passengers until mid-2021.
“The weird thing was getting you a brand new ship delivered and having nothing to do with it… we had to figure out how to handle that, a way to tie them down, until things got back to normal,” mentioned.
Ponant CEO for the Americas Navin Sawhney highlighted the role of industry crew members during the pandemic period.
“We are all very grateful to have people who are passionate about being a part of the cruise industry and up to the occasion, sometimes on a fairly short notice and going through huge amounts of regulations,” did he declare.
The biggest takeaway from the pandemic, Sawhney noted, could be an opportunity to reflect on the present and future of the industry.
“Half a century ago people gave up cruising and didn’t think the industry would survive,” he said.
“And yet cruising has grown and, by itself, has adapted and developed in so many different ways,” he continued, citing large ships, expedition ships, family cruises and more. “It’s a great testament to the resilience of our industry. “