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When will cruising be back to NORMAL? (Assuming vaccines roll out as planned)


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I am talking no mask wearing, crowded elevators, self serve buffets, etc.......you know “normal”.  OK if they require a vaccine before boarding but then no more COVID restrictions.  Fall of 2021 ? Next year? Never??

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No one knows but in my opinion is likely to take 2/3 more years and even then there are components that may never return, eg buffets. There are already warnings of a probable spike in cases if, as is likely, people drop their guard and becoming complacent after receiving the vaccine and do not adhere to the advice and restrictions.

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There probably won't be a return to "normal" cruising as described by the OP in the next 3 years or so.  We would need a cure for COVID for that to happen.  

 

Herd immunity and 90% vax rates won't insure that we could give up masks in public places, have a self serve buffet, full capacity seated dining rooms and theater venues.

 

We all suffer from COVID fatigue, but thinking that a semi prophylactic shot could give us  "normalcy" borders on fantasy or magical thinking.

 

Thinking that the virus is media induced borders on delusion.

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8 hours ago, VitaminSea53 said:

I am talking no mask wearing, crowded elevators, self serve buffets, etc.......you know “normal”.  OK if they require a vaccine before boarding but then no more COVID restrictions.  Fall of 2021 ? Next year? Never??

 

This is a really tough question to answer, not just because of the current COVID pandemic, but also due to the nature of the industry. The normal in the cruise industry in 2020 bears no resemblance to the normals experienced 40 to 50 years ago, and in some cases even 20 years ago.

 

The industry has an amazing ability to evolve, adapting to changing times and I suggest a few changes will result from this pandemic. It is also a global industry and not all areas of the World will be vaccinated as quickly as others, therefore, you may even experience different standards depending on the ship's location.

 

Vaccination records - I fully expect to see a requirement for providing vaccination records in many countries. Although it may be a new requirement for newer cruisers who cruise North America/Europe, it will actually be a return to marine industry normals.

 

Buffets - my first ships never had buffets, so eliminating them will be a return to an old normal. However, for the modern buffet, I suspect we will see crew service for the foreseeable future.

 

Masks - will probably vary based on region. N/America & Europe, possibly 2022, SE Asia & Africa 2023/24.

 

I suggest another question is how will this pandemic affect the design of new tonnage. Will the ever increasing size of ships and reductions in pax/space ratio continue on mass market, or will the social distancing requirement require changes.

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2 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

 

I suggest another question is how will this pandemic affect the design of new tonnage. Will the ever increasing size of ships and reductions in pax/space ratio continue on mass market, or will the social distancing requirement require changes.

That is a very interesting question. We all have seen that the mainstream cruise lines have been building larger and larger ships. And the Covid crisis has sped up the selling off of older, smaller ships. Will this be reversed? Only time will tell.

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12 hours ago, VitaminSea53 said:

I am talking no mask wearing, crowded elevators, self serve buffets, etc.......you know “normal”.  OK if they require a vaccine before boarding but then no more COVID restrictions.  Fall of 2021 ? Next year? Never??

I highly doubt (and fervently hope) things never quite return to the "normal" you're speaking of.  Mask wearing will end, only with vaccination proof and the knowledge that the vaccine works.  I believe there will never again be buffets the way they once were, and that to me is a good thing.  I also believe that in the future whenever entering another venue on the ship that people will be required to hand sanitize.  Just my humble opinion.

 

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10 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

That is a very interesting question. We all have seen that the mainstream cruise lines have been building larger and larger ships. And the Covid crisis has sped up the selling off of older, smaller ships. Will this be reversed? Only time will tell.

 

My thoughts on design changes go a little deeper than the size of the ships. The mass market have built bigger ships for economy of scale and ability to add more activities, but this has resulted in reduced pax/space ratios, from what we knew 20 to 40 yrs ago.

 

When thinking of design changes, I suspect mass market ships will most likely remain huge, but how will pax numbers trend and will 3rd/4th bunks remain. Will pax/space ratios continue to decline, remain the same, or start returning to previous levels.

 

Air Handling Units - will the designs be modified, what additional technology will be included. How will they adjust for social distancing - tables spaced further apart, lounge/theatre seating changes. Buffets, even with crew service - will they remain, or will they take the opportunity to make additional extra fee restaurants. Can spaces be developed to be more friendly for robotic cleaners. If pax density is reduced, what other traditional crew functions can be automated and/or eliminated, by technology.

 

Passenger flow simulations - will these be used to further reduce choke points by modifying structure, alleyways, etc. Will they require additional pax stairways, lifts, etc. Will Assembly Station numbers be reduced from what is currently permitted by SOLAS.

 

Gangways - will the number increase, or will they implement policies to manage the sea of humanity waiting to disembark while mooring lines are secured.

 

Will certainly be interested to see how the industry evolves.

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I think the only delusion is in the minds of those who expect cruising to return to normal (defined as what existed prior to COVID) anytime in the next 2-3 years.  Today's sale of Azamara to a private equity firm is likely just one more indication that things are going to change.   I do believe that the higher-end small luxury ship market (i.e. Seabourn, Silverseas, etc) will be the first to return to any semblance of normal.  The monster mega ships are likely to face major itinerary restructuring as they seek out ports willing to accept their passengers.   But these monster ships could probably adapt to a world with few ports and successfully market the vessel as the real destination.   But I do wonder what will happen with all the medium size vessels (lets call it 1500-3500 passenger) which might have the most difficult time adapting to the new normal.   Will a 100% vaccination policy be good enough to get these ships back on their way?   I see the possibility but also can imagine a lot of resistance from ports around the world.

 

By the way, I continue to think that the concept of "Herd Immunity" is a complete myth and merely a theoretical pile of bull being used to mollify some of the public.  For those that want to argue the point we would ask them to post some examples of "herd immunity" that have ever been achieved.  Even with the MMR vaccine being over 90% effective we have not come close to herd immunity and that vaccine has a very long term effect.   I think any chance of even coming close to herd immunity with COVID will depend on finding a vaccine that offers a very long period of immunity (measured in decades...not months or years).  There is no reason to believe that such a vaccine will be developed in the near future.

 

Hank

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56 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

 

My thoughts on design changes go a little deeper than the size of the ships. The mass market have built bigger ships for economy of scale and ability to add more activities, but this has resulted in reduced pax/space ratios, from what we knew 20 to 40 yrs ago.

 

When thinking of design changes, I suspect mass market ships will most likely remain huge, but how will pax numbers trend and will 3rd/4th bunks remain. Will pax/space ratios continue to decline, remain the same, or start returning to previous levels.

 

Air Handling Units - will the designs be modified, what additional technology will be included. How will they adjust for social distancing - tables spaced further apart, lounge/theatre seating changes. Buffets, even with crew service - will they remain, or will they take the opportunity to make additional extra fee restaurants. Can spaces be developed to be more friendly for robotic cleaners. If pax density is reduced, what other traditional crew functions can be automated and/or eliminated, by technology.

 

Passenger flow simulations - will these be used to further reduce choke points by modifying structure, alleyways, etc. Will they require additional pax stairways, lifts, etc. Will Assembly Station numbers be reduced from what is currently permitted by SOLAS.

 

Gangways - will the number increase, or will they implement policies to manage the sea of humanity waiting to disembark while mooring lines are secured.

 

Will certainly be interested to see how the industry evolves.

Thank you for your thought provoking thought on the issues facing cruising in the future.  And it certainly will be interesting to see how this all evolves.

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1 hour ago, Hlitner said:

Today's sale of Azamara to a private equity firm is likely just one more indication that things are going to change. 

 

This is very interesting news and represents a first of kind investment for Sycamore Partners.  It looks like they specialize in distressed retail assets.   All this cheap money needs to go somewhere...

 

It is also interesting that RCCL kept Silversea, at least for now, which also fits in the luxury group.  Perhaps RCCL is simplifying their luxury cruise strategy.

 

1 hour ago, Hlitner said:

But I do wonder what will happen with all the medium size vessels (lets call it 1500-3500 passenger) which might have the most difficult time adapting to the new normal

 

3500 still seems pretty big to me!

Edited by SelectSys
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3 hours ago, SelectSys said:

 

This is very interesting news and represents a first of kind investment for Sycamore Partners.  It looks like they specialize in distressed retail assets.   All this cheap money needs to go somewhere...

 

It is also interesting that RCCL kept Silversea, at least for now, which also fits in the luxury group.  Perhaps RCCL is simplifying their luxury cruise strategy.

 

 

3500 still seems pretty big to me!

Azamara is an interesting line.  You are probably aware it was formed when RCI was able to obtain a couple of the "R" ships after the bankruptcy of Renaissance and eventually added a third "R" ship (there were a total of 8 built for Renaissance).  Those "R" ships have relatively small cabins (and even smaller bathrooms) so would not really work for an ultra luxury brand such as Silverseas.  We cruised on Azamara when it was a relatively new company and were pleased.  But then RCI started messing with the brand, jacked up the price of cruising, changed the name to Azamara Club Cruises (I guess that name is supposed to sound more impressive) but never seemed to do much with the line.  I suspect they saw it as competition to Oceania but most "O" fans would probably smile at that comparison.

 

And I agree that 3500 does sound like a huge ship....but don't tell that to fans of the Oasis Class :).

 

By the way, speaking of small ship lines we have some interest in MSC's upcoming investment in 4 smaller vessels for a new cruise division that will likely build on their Yacht Club concept.  Leave it to MSC to do a spin off from a "ship within a ship" and actually create new ships :).  While this line has yet to build a strong base of loyal North Americans, we have found MSC to be very innovative and open to new ideas.   I hope DW and I are around long enough to see how this company evolves within the cruise industry.

 

Hank.  

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

We cruised on Azamara when it was a relatively new company and were pleased.  But then RCI started messing with the brand, jacked up the price of cruising, changed the name to Azamara Club Cruises (I guess that name is supposed to sound more impressive) but never seemed to do much with the line.

 

Maybe the acquisition of Silverseas made Azamara a bit redundant in terms of future plans.  I wonder if RCI will destroy that line as well as majority owner.  Big companies sometimes aren't the best in nurturing and growing their acquisitions.

 

2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

MSC's upcoming investment in 4 smaller vessels for a new cruise division that will likely build on their Yacht Club concept.  Leave it to MSC to do a spin off from a "ship within a ship" and actually create new ships :).  While this line has yet to build a strong base of loyal North Americans, we have found MSC to be very innovative and open to new ideas. 

 

While I have never sailed on MSC, I am totally fascinated by them as a company.  Well capitalized, private companies can truly be "world beaters" as they don't need to please "the street" on a quarterly basis.  As long as the Aponte family can stay unified, MSC is likely going to be innovative and growing for sometime to come.

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4 hours ago, SelectSys said:

While I have never sailed on MSC, I am totally fascinated by them as a company.  Well capitalized, private companies can truly be "world beaters" as they don't need to please "the street" on a quarterly basis.  As long as the Aponte family can stay unified, MSC is likely going to be innovative and growing for sometime to come.

 

In addition to being a private company, MSC have an additional advantage in that they are diversified in the industry. In addition to MSC Cruises, they are the 2nd largest container shipping company and also operate Ro/Ro's. While the cruise ships are laid up, the box boats are operating at a profit.

 

Unfortunately the days of cruise ships being a division of a diversified shipping company are long gone. Hence the reason that MSC cruises probably has the best chance of surviving the pandemic.

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When will cruising be back to NORMAL?

 

Unknown...

 

Travel as we knew..... long time...

Coming back to grass roots.... local holidays  are going to different.....

Why..... A lot of places have closed... tourist operators now no more....

Some of small towns which grew over the years from tourists are gutted... adn may never return to pre Covid-19 dates

 

Cruising is just one of the businesses effected by this.... So looking ahead   

 

It could be a changed world.....

 

Don 

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Change is inevitable, Covid-19 will just direct the change a certain way, "normal" is just a moment in time☺️The whole travel industry is going to get overhauled, so there will be no returning to pre Covid-19 travel. All we are doing is waiting for the restart so we finally see what travel is going to be like. 

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23 minutes ago, Joebucks said:

 

That's not going to happen. Even the media has started to acknowledge that

Actually there is a cure for COVID - of those who get it are not able to recover at home, the majority who seek treatment (“cure”) in a hospital are, in fact, “cured”.   The fact that many who are seriously infected are not successfully “cured” only means that the “cure” is not 100% effective.  But, then there are always instances  where every cure for every ailment fail — such failures do not mean that there are no cures - just that no cure always works.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

In addition to being a private company, MSC have an additional advantage in that they are diversified in the industry. In addition to MSC Cruises, they are the 2nd largest container shipping company and also operate Ro/Ro's. While the cruise ships are laid up, the box boats are operating at a profit.

 

Unfortunately the days of cruise ships being a division of a diversified shipping company are long gone. Hence the reason that MSC cruises probably has the best chance of surviving the pandemic.

 

 

Good to post this for people that aren't aware of MSC's core business.

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13 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 In addition to MSC Cruises, they are the 2nd largest container shipping company and also operate Ro/Ro's. While the cruise ships are laid up, the box boats are operating at a profit.

 

 

The best way to see how big they are is to look whenever you are docked in a big port. Their yellow containers clearly marked 'MSC" are everywhere.  Here in Sweden I often see MSC containers on trains. 

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There are still many unknowns about the COVID bug.  Consider that many folks, who have recovered from the virus find themselves having various morbidity problems many weeks or months after the so-called recovery.  Have they truly recovered?  Are they really cured of COVID?  As time goes on there seem to be more questions then answers.   Here is a link to a very interesting article (you can pretend not to notice the paper from the link):

1 in 8 recovered COVID-19 patients die within 5 months: study (nypost.com)

 

But that is only a small part of the story.  For every death there are many more with what may well be permanent life altering morbidities including heart damage, lung damage, neurological damage, kidney damage and even complete failure, circulatory damage that has led to amputations, etc.  Much of this is not reported by the press for whatever reason.

 

So, is there truly a cure for COVID?  Perhaps...perhaps not.  The full story of COVID has yet to be written.  So young folks who think COVID is no big deal because young healthy folks have a miniscule mortality rate, may be missing the rest of the story that this disease could well mess up the rest of their lives.  Speaking of lives, it is much too early to know if COVID takes years (or more) off one's normal life span.  My favorite quote when I worked in the medical insurance world was "we do not know what we do not know."   Just consider what was once thought to be a relatively harmless virus called Varicella Zoster (it causes Chicken Pox).   Decades ago this virus was considered an annoyance (because of chicken pox) rather then anything serious and many parents would even intentionally expose their children to the virus to get them sick and over chicken pox before they got to school age (it kept them from missing school).   It was many years later when it was realized that that same virus stayed dormant in the body forever and could again return in the form of Shingles...which can be a dangerous (and painful) disease.  

 

So just remember that when it comes to COVID we do not yet know what we do not know.

 

Hank

 

Hank 

 

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On 1/20/2021 at 11:39 AM, navybankerteacher said:

Actually there is a cure for COVID - of those who get it are not able to recover at home, the majority who seek treatment (“cure”) in a hospital are, in fact, “cured”.   The fact that many who are seriously infected are not successfully “cured” only means that the “cure” is not 100% effective.  But, then there are always instances  where every cure for every ailment fail — such failures do not mean that there are no cures - just that no cure always works.

 

I don't claim to be an expert in virology or health. However, we don't have a solid track record of "curing" viruses. I don't believe you even gave any explanation on how people are "cured" of it. The definition of "cured" tends to be used broadly. Hospitals can treat patients and their symptoms, there are vaccines to aid in prevention. None of that is a cure. We don't even have a cure for the common cold. Where do you get that there's a COVID cure?

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On 1/22/2021 at 8:33 AM, Joebucks said:

 

I don't claim to be an expert in virology or health. However, we don't have a solid track record of "curing" viruses. I don't believe you even gave any explanation on how people are "cured" of it. The definition of "cured" tends to be used broadly. Hospitals can treat patients and their symptoms, there are vaccines to aid in prevention. None of that is a cure. We don't even have a cure for the common cold. Where do you get that there's a COVID cure?

 

I understand your point.  Perhaps immunity or protection is a better word than cure.   Short of a cure, if I have protection that allows a return to normal, I'm happy.  

Edited by ldubs
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On 1/22/2021 at 11:33 AM, Joebucks said:

 

I don't claim to be an expert in virology or health. However, we don't have a solid track record of "curing" viruses. I don't believe you even gave any explanation on how people are "cured" of it. The definition of "cured" tends to be used broadly. Hospitals can treat patients and their symptoms, there are vaccines to aid in prevention. None of that is a cure. We don't even have a cure for the common cold. Where do you get that there's a COVID cure?

People who check into hospitals because they are losing their ability to breathe, and are subsequently released and return to normal life with the ability to breathe can surely be said to have been cured.

 

If a treatment restores you to health, which is what a treatment is intended to do - it has CURED you.

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