As the world has been swept up in the madness of the pandemic, one of the industries that has been it the hardest has been the cruise industry. Many travelers have had their attention on flights and hotels, but avid cruisers are eagerly awaiting for the green light to cruise again.

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In today’s interview, I got to chat with a dear friend and bonified cruise industry expert, Stewart Chiron, AKA the Cruise Guy. Stewart and I have been connected on social media for over six years and finally met for the first time two years ago. It was on one of my first cruises that I finally met Stewart and was immediately impressed by his knowledge on the industry, the ships, and the trends. If it has anything to do with cruising, Stewart is the man to know. After all he has been on 275 cruises.

The cruise industry has com to a complete halt–not unlike many other parts of the travel industry. Realistically, it seems cruises might not start operating again from the United States until at least late September or October. Given that all continues to go as planned. Regardless, restarting operations is going to be a huge feat.

The industry has repatriate over 200,000 crew members… which means, the cruise lines are going to have to get all of those crew members back to their ships.

We will see some changes in cruising, at least in the shorter term. Cruise lines will aim to have lower than max capacity. They are also looking to have shorter cruises. Pre-boarding protocols will be enhanced. Those cruise lines that have their own private islands will include stops there–particularly in the Caribbean. Cruises will start in some of the major ports, like Miami, Port Canaveral, and Galveston, TX.

There has been a lot of demand for 2021 sailings. Why not 2020? The biggest reason is because sailings aren’t announced for 2020. Studies have shown that as soon as dates are announced–people will sign up–and destination is not even a big factor. People just want to cruise. Demand is very much based on “wait-and-see.”

Prices are not going to drop as there is only going to be a limited number of cabins available. The confidence level in cruising is high. So for those hoping there will be discounts–think again.

The cruise lines will be looking to what hotels and airlines are doing–and will take the best business practices and apply them moving forward.

For those worried about the buffets, good news. The buffet on cruises will remain! It is the most efficient way to feed the number of people on a ship. They will have stations and there will be a gloved crew member at each station to help serve passengers.

All in all, the cruising experience will look a little different. But it is not going anywhere. At this point we just have to wait and see when the industry will get the green light from the CDC. Of course, there will be some trial and error at the beginning, but the industry will certainly thrive again.

For more on Stewart, you can visit his site.

Sarah Dandashy will also be featured on the premiere of Run the Pass with Chef Andre Natera! 

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