It’s a new week in the cruise sector, but it’s certainly far from ordinary as domestic cruises officially start, writes CTN editor Gary Peters.
On Thursday 20 May, MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa will depart Southampton as it kicks off the domestic cruise season.
Then comes Viking and its new ship, Viking Venus. And, on Sunday (16 May), P&O Cruises’ Iona was named by Hays Travel chair Dame Irene Hays in an extravagant ceremony in Southampton.
There’s also much more to come later in the summer as a host of lines prepare for their own domestic operations.
For all associated with the sector – travel agents, guests, crew members, cruise media and so on – these are all huge moments. Emotions have understandably been running high in recent days.
It’s easy to forget that behind the numbers, there are people. Countless livelihoods depend on a successful, thriving cruise business. The shutdown in operations has been catastrophic for so many – financially and mentally.
So, it’s with no shame whatsoever that cruise folk are celebrating with gusto. Bad news always spreads but it is time good news was given its chance in the spotlight.
These domestic cruises are significant moments in the history of the sector.
The experience will be different, that’s a given, but cruise is not alone in changing how it operates – at least in the short term. Covid-19 tests, masks, reduced capacities and social distancing won’t dampen spirits.
For every crew member getting back to work, every passenger once again making memories, every journalist getting on board to review a cruise, every travel agent working unsociable hours to clinch a sale, every cruise line executive involved in bringing so many ships to UK waters, every member of staff at the terminals doing their bit to ensure a seamless embarkation and disembarkation – this is your time to celebrate.