The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the cruise industry to a standstill but executives have expressed optimism that the sailings will eventually resume and the sector will once again thrive with help from promising future bookings.
Nonetheless, the industry faces a daunting road ahead that might force cruise lines to change their existing policies and reevaluate and even expand their onboard offerings to entice customers back to the world's seas and rivers.
When it comes to the things cruise lines must offer in a post-pandemic world, enhanced cleaning measures and free Wi-Fi jump to the top of the list.
Cruise ships already undergo a thorough cleaning process before, during and after each sailing.
"Each of the brands that fall under the Carnival Corporation umbrella has in place specific sanitation protocol on our cruise ships that is effectively used throughout our fleet," Carnival Corporation's chief communications officer Roger Frizzell told Business Insider earlier this year. "Our ships' routine cleaning and sanitizing protocols continuously use a disinfectant known to quickly kill coronavirus in 30 seconds on hard surfaces."
Stepping up cleaning, making some of those procedures visible to passengers and reminding guests to do their part by practicing good hygiene will be critical to instilling confidence in travelers who may be wary of going on a cruise post-coronavirus.
Beyond guaranteeing guests a safe environment, cruise lines must provide complimentary internet access for all passengers. Like drink packages, Wi-Fi can quickly add up on a cruise lasting several days and eliminating the cost barrier ensures a better customer experience in the age of social media and streaming.
Companies like Norwegian Cruise Line have already begun to offer discounted sailings featuring free perks such as open bar, specialty dining, excursions, kids and, of course, Wi-Fi. For now, many of these deals come with flexible cancellation policies that provide customers with peace of mind.
The cruise industry undoubtedly has some tough decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead, but rolling out enhanced cleaning measures and providing guests added incentive to book by offering free Wi-Fi are among the easiest.
Cruise lines also stand to benefit by continuing to work closely with the travel agents so many of their guests rely on already.
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