When the cruise industry starts up again, it's hoping to quickly win back its audience of loyal cruisers and appeal to first-timers as well—and in some ways it will be a new experience even for long-time fans.
In the earlier stages of the coronavirus pandemic, world attention focused on the drama of several ships that became incubators for the disease as ships and countries followed protocols that were, at the very least, poorly thought out. And that's why not only regulators, but industry figures are thinking hard about what will be needed in the future.
Antonio Paradiso, UK/Ireland director for Carnival's P&O and Cunard brands, told Cruise Critic that “There will be changes in terms of how we handle the serving of food and beverages on board or how our entertainment offering is run. It is also possible that we may sail with reduced capacity, but these are things that we are still working through to ensure we will be ready to commence operations again in the safest possible way.”
That probably means the end of the signature buffets that have been a popular feature; lines will need to be spaced out, and staff will load guest plates to avoid contamination. That might also reduce food costs a bit, because it will reduce heaping portions and wasting leftovers. Many lines have had staff at dining room entrances enforcing hand-sanitizing because of less serious norovirus; that practice will certainly continue and spread.
Entertainment areas, casinos, bars and more will likely have reduced capacity to allow for social distancing; it may even be necessary to reduce headcount on ships overall. The 5,000-passenger ships of the past may now need to sail with 3,000. And forget the open baskets of cookies or peanuts at the bar.
Image: Cruise ship buffets may become a thing of the past