I love cruising and cannot wait to get back on a ship!!
Cruising is one of the most luxurious, adventurous and exciting vacations available to travellers who love to explore the globe and experience new cultures and counties. A fact born out by the millions of passengers who step aboard each year in all parts of the world.
The global pandemic in 2020 impacted the cruise industry, along with many other travel companies, by forcing them to pause all sailings, sell off liners, cancel orders for new ships and force fleets of vessels into dry dock or condemed them to aimlessly anchor out at sea. There were fears that the entire industry would sink and never return to the Golden Age that was being enjoyed by the deployment of some 300 cruise ships internationally before the virus struck. Companies have juggled to keep afloat their companies, refinance to cover billions of dollars of lost revenue; maintain relationships with staff and crew, suppliers, partners and destination providers; to follow regulations and restrictions by implementing expensive and enhanced levels of health and safety.
Cruise liners were put under unprecedented pressure when through no fault of their own, thousands of passengers and employees were stranded at sea often quarantined on board ship outside countries that refused to accept them for fear of importing coronavirus. Never before had companies been faced with the ensuing monumental task of repatriating passengers and crew - all in the middle of a state of health emergency.
For those of us who love cruising, it has been frustrating and inspiring to observe the highest levels of health and safety standard to operational policies and strategies which have been implemented by the companies, only to have further government and industry regulations enforce yet more no sail and pauses of itineraries, leaving passengers and staff unable even with all the health and safety protocols in place to sail away.
Christine Duffy, CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines has paid tribute to the enduring commitment of her staff and colleagues and acknowledged the grief, anxiety and uncertainty suffered by so many people all over the world in this worst of times global catastrophe.
Carnival repatriated 30,000 team members, she explains, by plane and boat and train, automobiles and uber - as well as flotillas of vessels taking everyone home safely. She proudly pints out that as a show of support for team efforts over the Christmas period more than 10,000 cards were sent and delivered to team members across the fleet.
"Now we look forward with hope, confidence and enthusiasm to 2021 when we will sail again. We will be back better than ever, "she promises.
In similar vein, Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises, offers thanks to her teams, clients, guests and supporters all over the world. "We are on our way to brighter days," she states. "We will be back in business in 2021, as we ring in a New Year full of hope, possibility and optimism."
As I stand on my balcony gazing across the Bay to Port of Miami, my heart fills with thankfulness that with the help of the vaccine, we are about to enter a new era where life will not only return to normal but has the potential be better for all the lessons we have had to learn about working together for the greater good. Nothing makes me happier and more grateful than when I see those beautiful, graceful cruise liners sailing to and from the port waiting to do what they do best, take passengers to fulfil dreams on magical voyages. My heart fills with pride when I see that, despite having no guests this holiday season, they keep the lights on to brighten the way to a new future. I for one, will Keep Cruising.
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Ellen Frazer-Jameson is a journalist, author, actress. theater producer and drama coach. She co hosted the largest live late night radio show in Europe for the BBC and has appeared on national TV shows and taken leading roles on stage. She lives in Miami and London and loves to dance Argentine tango.