Apocalypse Now or Overreaction to Coronavirus: The Global Cruise Tourism Industry Crisis
- How did COVID-19-linked events escalate into the cruise tourism crisis?
- What is the nature and impact of the COVID-19 cruise tourism crisis?
2. Literature Review
2.1. COVID-19 Risks to Cruise Tourism
2.2. Risk Perception and Cruise Tourism
2.3. Crisis Management and Cruise Tourism
- An immediate crisis (comes without any or with very weak warning signals, so tourism organizations are caught completely off guard and unprepared);
- An emerging crisis (slower in development and if addressed properly can be mitigated by a set of organizational actions); or
- A sustained crisis (can last for a prolonged period of between months and years).
3.1. Overview and Qualitative Procedure
3.2. Research Design and Data Analysis
4. Passengers’ and Cruise Ship Employees’ Opinions on the COVID-19 Cruise Tourism Crisis
4.1. Demographic Profile of Interviewees
4.2. Risk Perception of COVID-19 and Its Impact on Cruise Tourism
“Yes, I mean cruise ships have a lot of practices in place. For example, the medical evaluation is a form that you fill out and hand in. They are checking to see if you’ve traveled from China or the other listed countries recently. There is generally an attendant at the buffet reminding you to wash your hands. Many people are washing whether there is anyone there or not. There is also an attendant who is keeping an eye on the food to see how it’s being handled, whether people are using tongs or touching things they shouldn’t. On the whole, I’d say the ship is doing a great job and the rest of us are just relaxing and enjoying life!”(Passenger No. 4)
“Not completely. The cruise industry lacks information on various infectious diseases since there are so many of them. They are not prepared, this is a new threat to the cruise industry and everyone thought it won’t happen to them. Even as we speak they don’t have test kits on board, they don’t have facilities for containing ill passengers/crew. The cruise ship can handle two or three cases and that’s it.”(Cruise ship employee No. 3)
“Having been on a “norovirus” cruise, I’d say ships are unable to stop the spread of disease despite a rigorous cleansing routine. The main reason [is] having people who refuse to act accordingly. There were people from the previous cruise who neglected to reveal they had been sick. Some infected people were sneaking out of their cabins, requiring all of us to show IDs before entering the dining rooms. Unless selfish people can be weeded out, cruise lines best efforts will fail.”(Passenger No. 1)
“When you have a cruise ship that has crew members and passengers spreading the COVID-19 or any other virus it is dangerous for the population on board. Cruise ships are floating cities in close quarters with over 3000 people living together, eating together and playing together. Spreading any type of sickness to a large group of people is very dangerous because cruise lines do not have enough medical personnel to handle a large number of people getting sick. This is a burden on cruise medical crew and dangerous for both crew members and passengers.”(Passenger No. 3)
“Paranoia!! Virtually every cruise ship has someone with flu-like symptoms, it’s extremely common on board. Based on this logic every cruise ship should be stopped in every port which means the entire industry may as well close up shop, millions of crew members left unemployed and unable to support their families and all countries that depended on income from cruise tourism can figure out how to pick up the pieces after throwing the baby out with the bathwater, all because of a virus that is less dangerous than type A influenza. The media need to stop hyping the public into a frenzy and start reporting on how many people have recovered and of the open cases of how many are in [a] mild condition.”(Passenger No. 6)
“They are sovereign countries and they have every right to ban entry if there are concerns that there are infected people on board. Cruise ships have to disclose if they have invasive species on board that could create disequilibrium in their countries. In this case, COVID-19 is a rare and dangerous invasive species.”(Cruise ship employee No. 8)
“I’m in my 70s and my husband is 82 and is a respiratory cancer survivor. We have enjoyed cruising but have canceled trips with Princess and Holland America through the end of the year. We will stay home in our small mountain community, take our vitamins, and wash our hands. We do have friends and family from Texas on the Grand Princess and we are concerned for them.”(Passenger No.1)
“Absolutely. Once passengers stop coming on cruises and stop booking, cruise companies will suffer from liquidity and new ship builds will be affected. The whole growth of the cruise industry is at stake. I mean, right [now] bookings are 35% down compared to last year.”(Cruise ship employee No. 3)
4.3. Cruise Tourism Crisis Induced by COVID-19
“Yes, and I mean [the] USA government issued [a] travel warning for cruise ships and President Trump made [a] 30-day ban on travel from Europe over [the] COVID-19 threat.”(Passenger No. 1)
“[The] Diamond Princess fiasco was the event that initiated a crisis in Princess Cruises and cruise tourism. You can’t “quarantine” people on a cruise ship with shared ventilation systems and food service personnel that don’t follow strict quarantine guidelines. At best, it’s a waste of time. At worst, it allows more people to become infected than if they got them off the ship.”(Passenger No. 8)
“No they don’t have because if they had, they would state it in public and you would see it in action. You see both the CDC and Princess Cruises have no clue. The CDC has not devoted sufficient resources to scientifically decide on COVID-19 and the cruise lines will just say whatever they think will make them seem less culpable.”(Passenger No. 3)
“I am not familiar with a contingency plan of every cruise line plan, but I would never call them detailed plans. There are plans and measures and checklist, but I don’t think they are holistic and detailed and they can be improved. But that comes with knowledge gained from experience from previous cases. I mean you would think that SARS and H1N1 brought us something, but it didn’t. Cruise lines essentially don’t think about [the] unthinkable and they hope it would not happen to them. The lessons will come regardless if cruise lines want to learn them or not.”(Cruise ship employee No. 8)
- Organizational strategies (contingency plans, process, and mechanism of crisis management);
- Organizational structures (dedicated logistics);
- Organizational culture (organizational beliefs and values).
“Telling the truth and making people aware of the hazards is not manufacturing panic, it is informing people so that they can make the proper decisions. Right now, you couldn’t pay me to get on a cruise and I’m not the only one. If anything, the State Department is a bit late with this warning and President Trump is late with this travel ban.”(Passenger No. 5)
“Right now it’s 50-50. [The] COVID-19 pandemic is reality and media is pumping the story.”(Cruise ship employee No. 7)
“Absolutely not. To make a long story short, cruise lines may be accountable for damages caused when a passenger becomes ill only when it is proven that the cruise line was negligent and its negligence was the direct cause of the guest’s damages. So, back to business as usual. Anyway I won’t be surprised if [the] USA government will bail them [out] with USA taxpayers’ money.”(Passenger No. 5)
“I mean contingency plans will be created and when it comes to practice nothing will change because [the] COVID-19 pandemic is [a] naturally caused event. [The] COVID-19 crisis was an unprecedented event and it will be classified as such. I mean epidemics and outbreaks are not everyday reality so practices that follow epidemics and outbreaks will not be everyday practices once epidemics and outbreaks are over. At best case, we will obtain knowledge so if a similar incident happens we will hopefully use previously gained knowledge and use it in dealing with a new threat.”(Cruise ship employee No. 8)
“If a small Caribbean island has an outbreak of the COVID-19 how many of the cruise lines will be stopping there? Probably none. So, these small, mostly poor island countries are protecting themselves from a destructive economic crisis. The cruise ships won’t be there to rebuild the economies of the islands. The cruise lines are just using the islands for their own profit.”(Passenger No. 5)
“It will always be up to the governments the way they would like to go. It should not be [a] matter of cruise lines influencing governments by lobbying. It is always better when it is up to the government to decide how they will deal with outbreaks and epidemics.”(Cruise ship employee No. 6)
“Very hard without the USA government help. However, the government should not give the cruise industry [a] bail out. Trump’s economic advisor – Larry Kudlow – suggested that the government should give cruise lines “stimulus” money because COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on their business. Why should the US taxpayers give money to companies that purposely fly foreign flags so that they can avoid paying US federal taxes?”(Passenger No. 4)
“I think they will because there is a huge demand for cruises and many new ships are being built to meet such demand. So once [it] all settles down, money should be coming back to cruise lines.”(Cruise ship employee No. 4)
- How did COVID-19 linked events escalate into a cruise tourism crisis?
- What is the nature and impact of the COVID-19 cruise tourism crisis?
5.1. COVID-19-Linked Events and Cruise Tourism Crisis
5.2. Nature and Effect of COVID-19
5.3. Practical Implication and Suggestions for the Cruise Industry
- Explore the use of quantum computers for the detection of crisis-related early warning signals.
- Use distributed ledger technology to improve the operational efficiency of reconciliation and intraday liquidity.
- Create digital video marketing content that considers the target population’s personality traits, which drive their behavior.
- Consider avoiding berth rate discounts as a crisis-coping strategy.
5.3.1. Application of Quantum Computers
5.3.2. Application of Distributed Ledger Technology
5.3.3. Creating Tailored Digital Marketing Content
5.3.4. Avoiding Berth Rate Discounts
Conflicts of Interest
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|Passenger No. 1||62 years old||The United States of America||Male||Small business owner|
|Passenger No. 2||61 years old||The United States of America||Male||Independent contractor|
|Passenger No. 3||64 years old||The United States of America||Male||Civil engineer|
|Passenger No. 4||54 years old||The United States of America||Female||Business office manager|
|Passenger No. 5||70 years old||The United States of America||Female||Retired|
|Passenger No. 6||44 years old||The United States of America||Female||Logistic operation manager|
|Passenger No. 7||41 years old||The United States of America||Female||Unemployed/homemaker|
|Passenger No. 8||63 years old||The United States of America||Male||Small business owner|
|Cruise ship employee No. 1||39 years old||Netherlands||Male||1st Engineer|
|Cruise ship employee No. 2||48 years old||India||Male||Hotel director|
|Cruise ship employee No. 3||32 years old||India||Male||Photo manager|
|Cruise ship employee No. 4||38 years old||Finland||Male||Cruise captain|
|Cruise ship employee No. 5||32 years old||The United Kingdom||Male||Cruise chief purser|
|Cruise ship employee No. 6||57 years old||Croatia||Male||Cruise chief officer|
|Cruise ship employee No. 7||44 years old||Turkey||Male||Maitre D’|
|Cruise ship employee No. 8||49 years old||Philippines||Male||Cruise housekeeping manager|
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Radic, A.; Law, R.; Lück, M.; Kang, H.; Ariza-Montes, A.; Arjona-Fuentes, J.M.; Han, H. Apocalypse Now or Overreaction to Coronavirus: The Global Cruise Tourism Industry Crisis. Sustainability 2020, 12, 6968. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176968
Radic A, Law R, Lück M, Kang H, Ariza-Montes A, Arjona-Fuentes JM, Han H. Apocalypse Now or Overreaction to Coronavirus: The Global Cruise Tourism Industry Crisis. Sustainability. 2020; 12(17):6968. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176968Chicago/Turabian Style
Radic, Aleksandar, Rob Law, Michael Lück, Haesang Kang, Antonio Ariza-Montes, Juan M. Arjona-Fuentes, and Heesup Han. 2020. "Apocalypse Now or Overreaction to Coronavirus: The Global Cruise Tourism Industry Crisis" Sustainability 12, no. 17: 6968. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176968