Cruise Line Sustainability Pre-COVID-19 and Lessons from the Pandemic

Photo by Kim Du Toit

Photo by Kim Du Toit

Disclaimer: All views reflected herein are my own and do not reflect those of cruise line staff or management.

When we think of going on a cruise, dream destinations, ocean views, impeccable service and an all-round memorable travel experience come to mind. Globally, 272 cruise ships carry around 30 million passengers annually (1), making the cruise industry a big player in the international tourism sector. In 2020, however, everything changed. The COVID-19 pandemic stranded many of these ships with their passengers and crew at sea. While the entire tourism industry abruptly came to a halt, cruise lines were especially subjected to harsh restrictions, not to mention increased concerns from prospective guests and returning crew, which will only add to a difficult prospective road to recovery.

This pandemic, as with many industries worldwide, has placed additional question marks around the need to adapt to survive. For the cruise industry, addressing environmental concerns and increasing sustainability will potentially be a make or break. The question is: will the industry pivot to focus on #BuildingBackBetter, or will recovering profit margins play a singular role?

In this two part blog series, we will first look into the major sustainability challenges facing the cruising industry pre and post-COVID-19 in order to understand the current state of the industry. This will be followed on by part two, where we will assess possible solutions navigating forward from the open questions that we pose here in part one.

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