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Robert Kwortnik.jpg
Robert Kwortnik is associate professor and director of graduate studies at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Coronavirus enforces classic objections to cruising: Cornell expert

Robert Kwortnik is concerned about the longer-term psychological impact of coronavirus on potential cruisers — especially the critical new-to-cruise customer.

An expert on the cruise business, Kwortnik is associate professor and director of graduate studies at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

As lines work to contain coronavirus, change itineraries, deal with cancellations and combat misinformation, he's considering the longer-term perception challenge.

Being 'stuck' on a ship

For example, Kwortnik noted the cruise industry has worked hard for decades to overcome the perception that cruising involves being 'stuck' on a ship.

Widespread media coverage of exactly that due to quarantines or ships being unable to disembark at ports only exacerbate this concern, he said.

Fear of outbreaks

Another common concern is becoming sick on a ship due to an outbreak of illness. That's a battle of perception cruise lines have fought for years related to the highly common and very contagious norovirus.

'Cruise lines go to extraordinary lengths to sanitize ships and to encourage hand washing by travelers that no doubt far exceeds personal hygiene efforts at home,' Kworknik said. 'Nevertheless, if we see new cases of coronavirus outbreaks on board cruise ships, we can expect the public to question on-board health conditions.'

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