No one is cancelling. And few are surprised. Royal Caribbean announced this week that 48 cases of COVID had been detected on the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, carrying 6091 passengers and crew.
That’s 0.78 per cent of passengers and crew. And while the incident sparked a few headlines, the ship’s itineraries were unafected and she sailed on.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website has some 40 cruise ships that have reported cases from all the major brands. At the same time, Carnival announces that, as Christmas approaches, it will have sailed 1.2 million guests since September of last year.
Norwegian also had cases earlier in the month. Its sailings, too, were not affected. Norwegian, along with fellow lines, are now putting most of its fleet back in operation and numbers on board are growing.
Carnival, too, has enhanced health and safety protocols on its ships. But the numbers of those who have sailed without incident means shutdowns are unlikely
To get things in perspective, Carnival said that before the pandemic, it sailed more than 12 million guests a year. So the rebuild is gradual and sensible and ensure the comeback is not put at risk.
In Europe, where countries like Germany are tightening rules, cruises are still sailing. And in Asia, Dream and Royal Caribbean are expanding operations in Hong Kong, where demand for special themed cruises is strong.
Australia remains the standout as the last major cruise nation to single out the industry and refuse to allow a restart.
While case numbers rise, a change is unlikely. But hopefully, as the rest of the world shows how to manage cruising with COVID, the Australian government will follow.