2020 has been a disastrous year for the cruise industry. The sector is doing its best to salvage 2021 starting this summer and to resume pre-pandemic growth, strengthening its safety and sustainability.
The suspension of cruise routes between March and September 2020 is estimated to result in economic losses of more than 77 billion dollars, and the loss of 518,000 jobs. In Spain, this has cost 2.4 billion losses and more than 20,000 jobs.
These and other figures appear in the industry outlook report published by CLIA, the International Association of Cruise Lines, which also paints a picture an industry that was continually growing before the pandemic and whose future prospects are once again looking promising.
The report highlights the strong growth recorded by the sector in 2019. The global cruise industry generated 1,166,000 jobs and more than $154 billion dollars, and cruise ships handled 29.7 million passengers in 2019.
The industry has grown across all levels in Spain and the turnover was around 6 billion euros with the creation of 50,031 jobs. These figures consolidated Barcelona as the quintessential cruise port in Europe.
A revitalised cruise sector after the crisis
The sector is facing the return to business with optimism and is working to be as safe as possible, focusing on innovation, sustainable tourism practices and the renewal of its fleets. According to CLIA, 20 new ships will be debuting in 2021.
The entire fleet will also be working with new health and safety protocols.
100% of the crew and passengers will undergo COVID-19 tests prior to boarding and the use of masks, distancing and ventilation will be key. Trips take place in bubble groups, and tools such as the geolocation of the passengers will allow to ensure this safety is in place even outside the ship.
The sector is also committed to a more sustainable future, and to reducing its carbon emissions. This translates into an investment of 23.5 billion dollars in ships with new technologies and fuels, promoting the use of LNG, advanced systems for wastewater treatment and connections with the electrical network on land.
Outlook for the summer
While it is clear that the recovery will not take place overnight, vaccination and the lifting of restrictions have allowed a significant part of cruise activity to return this summer.
The cruise season in Spain kicked off with Mein Schiff 2, from TUI Cruises, which docked in Malaga in June. However, the majority of cruise companies have chosen July and August in particular to return to work. 39 ships are expected to be operating in Europe this summer, and 50% or 60% of the world fleet are expected to be active by the end of the year.
In short, cruise activity is back and is safer and cleaner than ever. However, return to normality is expected by 2022