After twenty-one long months, the third week of October heralded the return of international cruise ship operations globally, and with it, a sigh of relief from both operators and some of the world’s tourism-dependent economies.
From Alaska to St Kitts, through to the Scottish Highlands, passengers were welcomed aboard, albeit under strict protocols which included mandatory vaccinations for those over the age of twelve, negative PCR tests within 72 hours of embarkation and the observance of social-distancing onboard at all times.
Additional conditions required by some operators included restrictions for both passengers and crew to interact with the general population once in port, prompting the question of where the line should be drawn between adhering to safety protocols while still making the proposition of taking a cruise attractive.
As one of the worst-hit industries from the pandemic, which saw the stocks of major operators such as Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises plummet by up to 80%, there is an understandable drive from operators and tourism stakeholders to return to full capacity at the earliest opportunity. Equally, governments and regional officials have a level of caution to avoid the rampant infection rates witnessed onboard cruise vessels between March and May 2020.
On a positive note, the general sentiment towards cruise holidays from a consumer point of view seems to be optimistic. According to a survey produced by Cruise Lines International Association, which sampled four thousand vacationers from eight countries found that 74% of those who’ve been on a cruise in the past will likely book in the coming years, that two out of three of those are willing to travel within the year, and that 58% of international holidaymakers who have never been on a cruise will likely do so in the next few years.
From initial reports, the experience for each voyage will vary depending on with whom you book. At the same time, the decision-making process for whether cruise passengers should be allowed to interact with the local population is specific to each jurisdiction.
Fortunately, Abu Dhabi’s handling of the pandemic has meant one of the highest vaccination rates in the world per capita, leading to the emirate’s decision to not only allow the return of cruise liners, but to welcome passengers to experience all Abu Dhabi has to offer, providing they are fully vaccinated. As the first call, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 6 docked at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal on 26th October as part of its regional cruise itinerary, which will include stops in Dubai, Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach amongst others.
As the cruise ship docked in Abu Dhabi, guests were welcomed through Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, which has been specifically designed to cater for the safety of its international guests, while also being operationally experienced in handling the strong levels of growth across its maritime tourism sector, which reached over half a million cruise visitors in 2019, a 46% y-o-y increase, while also gaining a 43% increase on cruise calls to 192.
As an additional layer of precautions for both residents, crew and passengers, our cruise terminal facilities will be sterilised daily, and include a comprehensive emergency response plan for handling positive cases within the terminal, thereby mitigating the risk of any positive cases reaching the resident population.
Ultimately, rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the greater population, and are a small price to pay to finally travel, relax, and experience some of the most spectacular parts of the Arabian Gulf, all from your very own five-star, floating palace.
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