Katz emphasised that priorities at present are to work with health authorities, medical experts, epidemiologists and others to understand what cruise operations and associated services will look like in a Covid-19 world.
‘Our priority and underlying key philosophy will continue to be the safety and security of everyone on board the ships.’
Asked about cruising in a ‘trans Tasman bubble’ context he says if New Zealand and Australia continue to have minimal community transmission then ‘logically a trans Tasman cruise should be feasible.’
But he says it is important now to recognise that nobody really understands as yet what a restart will look like. ‘It is an evolution. We are working with each jurisdiction and all authorities and of course we are heavily influenced by community sentiment around where and when cruising might restart.
‘It may be that the very first start may be cruising to nowhere (starting and finishing at the same port after heading out to sea) because we haven’t quite reached the point where a community is comfortable to accept tourists from outside the area.
‘Maybe in the New Zealand context, if the country is secure in allowing domestic travel, we could operate purely domestic cruises for New Zealand passengers only.’
Katz and Summers both noted that there has already been a resurgence of interest in cruising and a desire of people to rebook cruises using their future cruise credits.
‘This shows that existing passengers remain passionate about cruising and they have an understanding of what we are doing to keep them safe,’ says Katz.
‘The challenge will be the new to cruise market, where we have spent a lot of time and effort in the last 20 years. I think that is an area where will see a setback and where we have a lot of work to do to rebuild.’
Cruise sector engages with international health experts
The cruise industry will take a ‘kerb-to-kerb’ approach in developing a new health framework to govern future operations in New Zealand and around the world, says Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz.
In an online briefing for members of the New Zealand Cruise Association this week Katz outlined the international efforts underway to develop new health and safety measures for when the time is right to resume cruise operations.
He says CLIA and its cruise line members were engaging with health experts internationally to examine all areas of cruising in response to Covid-19.
‘Our approach will examine the entire journey, from the time the guest makes a booking through to their embarkation, their onboard experience, and every step until after they get home,’ Katz says.
Although details of the new measures were still in development, he says they will address aspects including passenger health screening, onboard cleansing and specific medical protocols. Once confirmed, they would be discussed with individual governments and health authorities, including in New Zealand, as part of a thorough consultation process.