Following a global pause in cruise operations last March, cruise lines resumed sailing in parts of Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific by midyear. There were over 200 sailings through the end of the year, with the success of these trips demonstrating that the “new protocols are working as designed—to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 among passengers, crew, and the destinations [that] cruise ships visit,” Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), reports.
According to CLIA, the cruise industry is now on a path to resumption in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other areas of the world. Eager to get back onboard, 74% of cruisers say they’re likely to cruise again within the next few years while two-thirds of them are ready to enjoy their next cruise sometime within the next 12 months. And, 58% of international vacationers who have never cruised before are likely to cruise in the next few years, CLIA states.
Currently, there are 270 ships in operation, with another 20 ready to make their debut this year. “With the vaccine rollout gaining momentum, we are hopeful that the public health situation will continue to improve and that, as we head into the warmer months, we will see a focus on reopening the travel and tourism sector in the U.S., including cruises,” CLIA states. “The industry’s successful resumption in Europe and parts of Asia are a promising example that a responsible return to cruising is possible with the right measures in place.”
Thank You for Making this Happen
DB Schenker’s Cruise Line Logistics department supports many different cruise providers and the trips that they create for travelers who enjoy the experience of life on the high seas. This department also manages logistics and transportation activities for maritime vessel operators, including the replenishment of food stores, delivery of decorative artwork, and installing furniture onboard.
Make no mistake, the last 15 months has been a challenging time for DB Schenker’s Cruise Line Logistics Department and the clients that it serves. For example, it didn’t know exactly when the ships would be able to get back on the water and start operating again.
Issues such as the requirement that Alaska-bound ships must stop at a Canadian port (made impossible due to the border closure) and Florida’s law prohibiting businesses from asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccinations (something the CDC was requiring of cruises), required some creative workarounds on the part of the cruise operators.
Just when cruise lines decided to start their cruises in the Bahamas to circumvent the Florida requirement, a COVID-19 outbreak in Bimini temporarily thwarted those plans. DB Schenker had one week to change the departure port over to Nassau instead.
Despite these and other challenges, the end result was a positive one. In fact, that wound up being the first sailing that DB Schenker did out of the Americas for 2021.
The emotions of the passengers as they boarded the ship was obvious: the prevailing sentiment among them was, “Thank you for making this happen.”
Adapting to New Protocols
The passengers on that recent cruise may not have realized it, but the amount of work going on behind the scenes to get that and subsequent ships stocked, loaded up, and out of the harbor was astronomical. Passengers and crew both had to be tested upon embarkation and disembarkation, for example, which meant having the right materials in the terminal and onboard to manage those requirements.
Of course, cruise lines aren’t in the healthcare industry, so this is a new shift for them. The same operators also had to space out the tables in their dining rooms to accommodate social distancing, change up their buffet operations, operate with reduced capacity (in some cases, as little as 30% of the usual number of passengers), and take other steps to ensure a healthy, safe cruise experience for everyone onboard.
Lobster and Margaritas
For the cruise lines, DB Schenker provides the logistics for everything from inbound shipping and supply management, to the distribution of finished goods, to the support of landings, dry docks, and the launch of new ships. It also manages the movement and storage of any item the cruise operator and its guests may require, including food and beverages, gift bags for passengers, and staging equipment for entertainers.
In providing this “door-to-door service,” DB Schenker works right alongside the ship that it’s delivering goods to (versus dropping them off at a nearby warehouse). It delivers right to the vessel. If that doesn’t happen—and if that vessel is gone for a week—the logistics provider may even have to take the goods to the next port of call.
After all, that one-pound lobster or frothy margarita has to be served right on the ship.
Ready to Sail
Currently, DB Schenker is working with operators in Miami, Port Everglades, Tampa, Cape Canaveral, and other U.S. Ports—all with the goal of getting their ships ready to sail again. With one successful sailing out of Miami already completed, the next will be one from New York. At this point, everyone is just happy to be back and doing what they love to do. Captains, crew members, and other employees—many of whom who haven’t seen guests onboard for over a year—are extremely excited to finally get back to some sense of normalcy.