'The runway is very long here… You’re not going to see many vessels this year, at all – if any – for the remainder of the year', said Pimentel, who resigned from Azamara in April, adding, ‘It’s a very complicated path to recovery. A cruise industry in which there’s no place to cruise? How much worse could it get.’
‘COVID-19's Impact on Cruise Operations – Finale’, moderated by Ryan Stana, ceo at RWS Entertainment Group, also heard Carolyn Spencer Brown, CEO, Cruise Media, question the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current reluctance to allow cruising to resume and criticised the mainstream consumer press for their reporting of the pandemic on board cruise ships.
‘I don’t think it’s been fair, it’s been a poor reflection’, she commented, before adding, ‘The industry should be doing a better job of messaging… I’m very distressed there’s no clear voice out there.’
Spencer Brown concurred ‘Lines that have invested in technology will do better in a post-COVID-19 era...and cruising will come out as a better way to travel than it’s ever been.'
Pimentel added, 'we need machines that give us immediate [test] results’ for cruising to be able to resume.
Also discussed was a rule for all passengers to show evidence of compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 – when a vaccine becomes available – before embarkation.
Cruising ahead of a vaccine being made available would mean, 'you have to assume someone on board will have COVID-19...so you’ll need a hospital section,' said Pimentel.
Speaking of the ‘new normal’ within the context of shore excursions, Pimentel envisaged smaller groups, with a universal protocol needed that protects those visiting areas on land, as well as local communities at port destinations.
’People are more worried about getting to the ship than getting on the ship’, added Spencer Brown, as she discussed cruise passengers’ possible hesitance at passing through airports, boarding planes, staying in hotels and ‘the steps in between.’
Annie Scrivanich, SVP, Cruise Specialists, said she was ‘very proud’ of her company’s response to the outbreak, in particular repatriating its customers from on board Holland America Line ships when the pandemic began. 'I want them [staff at Cruise Specialists] to be ready to go when we get back into a booking cycle,' she said.