Passenger Vessels

Cruise Companies Bet On Pent-Up Demand

The passenger cruise industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. In its early days, several outbreaks aboard ocean passenger liners were highly publicized on social media.

Since then, attempts to restart ocean passenger cruising have proven premature. One company, SeaDream Yacht Club, attempted to resume Caribbean cruising in early November, according to Travel and Leisure magazine, but was forced to cut the trip short after an outbreak of COVID-19, despite pretesting.

There are signs, though, that pent-up demand for passenger cruising on both oceans and rivers is strong. When Royal Caribbean set up a “volunteers of the Seas” Facebook site asking for volunteers to test new Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 distancing protocols aboard demonstration cruises, it got 100,000 volunteers within hours. The cruises will include COVID-1 quarantine drills. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and provide medical certificates. Dates for the test cruises have not yet been announced.

Hoping for a post-pandemic rebound, cruise companies are continuing to invest. American Cruise Lines recently revealed new designs of the interior for its new class of modern riverboats. All will include a patented opening bow, retractable gangway, glass atrium and private balconies. The company is planning for two new riverboats to arrive next year, one in March and one in the summer. Frank Klipsch, former mayor of Davenport, Iowa, has joined American Cruise Lines as director of city partnerships and special projects.

After Viking River Cruises sold out its St. Louis-to-St. Paul, Minn., and New Orleans-to-St. Paul Mississippi River cruise dates scheduled for 2022, it opened additional 2023 sailing dates for booking in July, ahead of schedule, according to the company.