How To Turn Risk Into An Opportunity: Part 2 – Other Cruise News: Canadian Crew Sent Home From Bahamas Via The UK – Congressional Hearings Into Carnival Corp

by Kevin Griffin

This week sees The Cruise Examiner’s guest editor, Dr Jennifer Holland deliver the second of her four-part series concentrating on the perceptions of risk in the cruise industry. Elsewhere we look at how the combination of Covid-19 and the CDC have affected the repatriation of thousands of cruise ship workers to their homelands. Finally, Congress is preparing to throw the Christians to the lions in Washington.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

How To Turn Risk Into An Opportunity (Part 2) (Dr Jennifer Holland)

(* This is the second instalment of a four-part series exploring perceptions of risk in cruising, with the aim of shining a light on positive ways the cruise industry can use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to “come back stronger than ever”. The third article will explore “non-cruisers”, and why some people will never cruise as they perceive too much risk in cruising, and the fourth and final article will put forward recommendations for the future of cruising.)

Dr. Jennifer Holland - Cruise & Tourism Researcher - Industry Consultant - Secretary, Geographies of Leisure & Tourism Research Group (RGS) - Research Fellow, Royal Geographical Society

Dr. Jennifer Holland – Cruise & Tourism Researcher – Industry Consultant – Secretary, Geographies of Leisure & Tourism Research Group (RGS) – Research Fellow, Royal Geographical Society

This week will focus on specific risks that are more important than safety or health concerns for how people decide to go on a cruise or not.

Even after incidents like the Costa Concordia or the Viking Sky, which showed distressing images around the world, cruise bookings did not waver. This highlights how worries about health and safety may not be as important other concerns when people are thinking about choosing a cruise holiday.
Recent research reveals there are 3 main concerns that have a huge impact on buying decisions for a cruise, and these are risks related to finances, time, and self-concept. Managing these risks will have a positive impact on cruise bookings.

One of the main reasons many people choose not to cruise is because they perceive it as too expensive. Many studies show time and again, people who have been on a cruise perceive them as good value for money, and people who have not cruised see them as expensive. Potential cruisers also worry about transparency around potentially hidden charges such as extra costs for shore excursions or gratuities.

The world's first purpose-built cruise ship, Hapapg's Prinzessin Victoria Luise 1900

The world’s first purpose-built cruise ship, Hapapg’s Prinzessin Victoria Luise 1900

An opportunity exists by focusing on more all-inclusive style pricing packages and this would assist in reducing these perceived risks. Additionally, more focus should be on value, and providing more comparison of land holidays with cruise packages.
Worries about finances are fundamental to risk perceptions in cruising given the situation with Covid-19. Thousands of holidaymakers are now asking for refunds or credit for a future holiday. Some companies have handled this really well, and others have failed miserably. Most cruise lines have been keeping their booked guests updated, which is essential. Right now many travellers are worried about which companies are going to survive this pandemic.

More confidence needs to be instilled in customers for the incredible longevity and history of many cruise lines. Several cruise lines were founded in the 1800’s and have made it successfully through the Crimean War, World War I and II, the Spanish Flu, 9/11 and other global difficulties. Even in the 1960’s when many said the cruise industry was finished with the arrival of mass air travel and package holidays, the cruise industry not only survived but became the incredible success it is today. Focus now needs to be on the legacy of strength and resiliency.

A second important concern is risk related to time, with many cruisers specifically choosing to cruise because it reduces risks associate with travel. They can unpack once and wake up somewhere new every day, which is a huge benefit by taking out the hassle and waste of time of sitting at airports to see that many destinations on one trip. This should be a keen focus moving forward to highlight the incredible value for both time and money in cruising.

P&O'S Strathaird arriving in Sydney. She undertook her first Australian cruise in December 1932

P&O’S Strathaird arriving in Sydney. She undertook her first Australian cruise in December 1932

However, not only do potential cruisers have to factor in the actual time for the holiday, but also the planning. Booking a cruise can be a highly involved and complex process, with the need to select from a huge number of brands (at least 62 in 2019) with widely differing destinations and itineraries, varying cabin types and complex pricing structures.

Potential cruisers also need to consider transportation to and from the ship (which often includes international air travel), shore excursions, and a range of onboard aspects such as what is appropriate to wear, social expectations, dining etiquette, and staff gratuities.

It can be very time consuming to go through this process, find a cruise, book a cabin and then it gets cancelled, such as what is happening now with Covid-19. This is where the opportunity is for travel agents and cruise line sales teams – focus on the time and money it is saving by having an agent with expert knowledge help you.
What is essential is for people to feel they can trust the cruise lines and industry. This will be fostered by clear and transparent policies that detail specifically what will happen in case the cruise is cancelled or itinerary modified.

Recent research (https://www.businessinsider.com.au/cruise-ship-bookings-are-increasing-for-2021-despite-coronavirus-2020-4?r=US&IR=T) shows that overwhelmingly people would rather have a credit and use it for a future cruise rather than get a refund.

In that study, 76% chose to keep the credit, with only 21% choosing a refund. This should be reassuring to the industry. But clearly outlined information is key to building and keeping trust. Trust reduces the perception of risk.

A 3rd important risk which influences booking decisions more than any other is psychological risk. Ultimately, we choose holidays that reflect how we see ourselves or how we want other to see us. This is critically important. A cruise presents an opportunity to reinforce and express our self-concept, with many cruisers loving the sense of freedom and belonging onboard by being with other likeminded people. Research shows cruisers choose a brand they feel matches their self-concept, either as how they see themselves now or aspire to.

In the same way, noncruisers reject cruising as it does not match how they want to be seen or they don’t see themselves as the “type” of person to go on a cruise (which is explored in part 3 more in detail). With so many different kinds of cruises to appeal to so many different tastes, there is huge opportunity in educating potential cruisers about the huge range of experiences available. It’s about finding a way to tap into how they see themselves.

Research has found safety and health concerns are far less important when people are deciding whether or not to choose a cruise. While more research is needed now post-covid-19, this article provides some insight and practical recommendations to move forward to find opportunities in these uncertain times.

(* These articles are based on the research conducted in the UK which explored the influence of risk on deciding whether or not to choose a cruise for a holiday, and examined risk in cruising in relation to physical, health, social, psychological, time-loss, opportunity-loss, performance and functional risks.)

OTHER CRUISE NEWS

Canadian Cruise Crew Sent Home Via The UK

Royal Caribbean is in the midst of a major plan to repatriate thousands of crew members to their home countries. A letter sent to crew by Michael Bayley, president and ceo of Royal Caribbean International, has announced the repatriation of crew from sixty different countries by cruise ship and charter flights, with estimated dates.

Royal Caribbean will be transferring crew members by nationality and region onto different ships that will proceed to ports where flights will be organized.

Royal Caribbean's Empress Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Empress Of The Seas

By far the most comical routing, caused by the unreasonable demands of CDC as to how crew should be moved to airports and by air has caused the routing of Canadian from the Bahamas to the UK to fly them back to Canada. Numbers are not yet known.

European, Canadian and all other nationalities will be transferred to Freedom, Empress and Majesty of the Seas. All three ships will sail on Friday for Southampton where UK charter flights will be organised for crew repatriation.

All three ships are due to depart Miami on Friday May 15, with Freedom due in Southampton on May 24 and Empress and Majesty on May 28.

Indian crew have been transferred to the Anthem of the Seas. This ship sailed on Saturday May 9 for Goa, where she is expected on June 3. India is shut down, except for ship repatriation of Indian nationals.

Caribbean, Central American and South American crew will be transferred to Vision, Rhapsody and Adventure of the Seas Adventure departed the Bahamas on Saturday May 9 for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, where she is due May 23.
Rhapsody is to depart Miami on May 13 for Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize where the ship will arrive on May 23. Vision is to depart Miami on May 15 for St Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad, St Vincent and the Grenadines where she will arrive on June 7.

Harmony of the Seas (Photo courtesy Royal Caribbean International)

Harmony of the Seas (Photo courtesy Royal Caribbean International)

Filipino crew are being transferred to Harmony and Liberty of the Seas. Harmony is already in Barbados, where Royal Caribbean have applied to operate charter flights to Manila every three days, starting today, May 11.
Liberty of the Seas will stay near Miami, from here Filipino crew will be repatriated by charter flight starting May 18.

Indonesian crew will be transferred to Explorer and Enchantment of the Seas. Explorer will set sail to Barbados from where charter flights will be organized for the Indonesian crew from May 9 to May 12. Enchantment will sail to Miami for a charter flight on May 15, returning the crew to Jakarta and Denpasar.

US crew close on ships sailing close to US ports began to be repatriated with private transportation beginning May 6. US crew from Asia will be repatriated home from the Philippines as soon as Manila airport reopens. US crew in the Mediterranean will be flown by May 20.

Ukrainian and Romanian crew will be transferred aboard Navigator of the Seas which will arrive in Miami, and charter flights will be organized for May 16.
There may be some last-minute changes.

Congressional Hearings Into Carnival Corp

The US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure announced an investigation into Carnival Corporation’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday.

In a letter to ceo Arnold Donald, the chair of the committee Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio requested the cruise company turn over all internal documents and communications related to Covid-19 since Jan. 1. Citing repeated Covid-19 outbreaks on Carnival Corp. ships, and a history of norovirus outbreaks in the cruise industry, DeFazio said more robust health precautions must be required when the company begins operations again.Carnival Corporation & plc (logo)

Now, as the “Miami Herald” reported last Wednesday, two senators are calling for a similar investigation in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Citing concerns about Carnival Cruise Line’s plans to begin cruising again on August 1. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Edward Markey (D-Mass) said the Senate too should investigate Carnival Corp.’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their call came Wednesday in a letter addressed to the committee chairman, which said in part, “W. and public health experts to reassure Americans of the industry’s commitment to implementing robust measures to keep passengers and crew members safe.”

“Now more than ever, the entire industry must focus on real, systemic health and safety reform before setting sail again.”

The senators asked committee chairman, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, to open an investigation and hold hearings. Republicans control the US Senate and generally have the power to convene hearings and open formal investigations.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd and a director of specialist cruise operator Culture Cruises Ltd, both of London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

(Dr Jennifer Holland recently completed her PhD at the University of Brighton. Her thesis explored tourists’ perceptions of risk in ocean cruising and provides practical implications for industry. Jennifer holds a BA (University of Alberta, 2000) and MTour (University of Otago, 2004), and has been involved in cruising and tourism for 17 years. She has worked for Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, among others. Her research on risk in cruising has recently been featured on the BBC, CNA, and Skynews. email: jenniholland@outlook.com @jenniholland14

(See the last columns)

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