Just when you thought you could take a cruise…

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Not so long ago, I wrote a story about the cruise industry and how most cruises wouldn’t restart until the Autumn at the earliest.

Le Paul Gauguin which cruises out of Tahiti. Image c PG Cruises

Not quite true.

I had forgotten about Hurtigruten a shipping company that has as its main business a ferry stopping at dozens of ports up the Norwegian coastline, a journey that usually takes it seven days each way.

In addition it also operates a few cruise trips including one to the Arctic from Norway.

Only a fortnight or so ago, it restarted some cruises on the Roald Amundsen and guess what? Forty passengers and crew from have contracted the virus on only its second cruise since the resumption.

Worryingly for passengers is the statement from the company’s Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldamsaid who, according to the BBC, said, “A preliminary evaluation shows a breakdown in several of our internal procedures.” I cannot find corroboration of this on the Hurtigruten website

If this was said, then a breakdown is an unacceptable option. There should be no breakdown and this should be made very clearly to the crew and the land side staff of the company.

What the impact of this might be for the cruise industry as a whole is difficult to judge.

Some passengers besotted with cruising might dismiss it out of hand. Others will only ever take a cruise know when hell freezes over. The number that has to be calculated is how many previous cruise passengers and those who might have considered a cruise in the future will now be put off. And if they are put off will that be a permanent reaction or will it last a year, two, five or even ten years or more?  

At the same time as this PR disaster was announced another vessel, Le Paul-Gauguin, sailing in the south seas of the Pacific Ocean also had a passenger with positive signs for the coronavirus. Thankfully, there has been just one case to date.

Cruise ships don’t have a great record of dealing with mass outbreaks. The number of times a norovirus outbreak is mentioned by the media hasn’t deterred from there being a big growth in cruise ship numbers.

The question cruise ship bosses will be asking themselves is whether these outbreaks plus those on the Diamond Princess as well as the Ruby Princess earlier in the year will have any effect on the future for cruises.  

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