Following the coronavirus outbreak, it’s no secret that the cruise industry has been reduced to a former shadow of itself in 2020 with the global suspension of sailings having put a halt to all cruise holidays for the foreseeable future.
In spite of these difficult and unprecedented times, however, the cruise sector has met these challenges with vigour, kindness, and determination.
When it would have been easy to retreat into hibernation throughout this pandemic, cruise lines and their partners have instead chosen to stand together and keep spirits raised across the globe as we face lockdown.
Whether it be through interactive ways to help us cruise virtually from the comfort of our own homes or acts of kindness to those in need on the frontline, the cruise industry has provided a beacon of hope to many during these trying times.
Support for the NHS and frontline key workers has been incredible since the outbreak of coronavirus with ships across the UK joining in with the nationwide Thursday evening clap, sounding their horns and lighting up the dusk with inspirational messages of support.
One of the first cruise lines to kick things off was Saga Cruises, which lit up its ship Spirit of Discovery with a message of solidarity for the NHS, followed by Princess Cruises, which beamed the message “We Will Be Back” from the balcony cabins of Sky Princess after the suspension of sailings had been confirmed.
In Southampton, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and P&O Cruises’ Britannia have been joining in the chorus of horns, while in Firth of Forth, Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s four ships have been sounding their horns in unison while they remain docked.
Indeed the much-loved British cruise line has been far from idol during lockdown. The company’s head office staff has set themselves the challenge of walking around the world in a bid to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together.
The ‘Around the World Challenge’ encourages people to use their allotted daily exercise to see how far they can walk, run, cycle or even swim. The team has already covered over 600 miles since the challenge launched on 1 May and will be sharing updates each Wednesday as part of their Virtual Cruising programme.
Further support comes from the team at ROL Cruise, which is aiming to raise £100,000 for the NHS. Recognising the physical and emotional toll this virus is undoubtedly having on many on the frontline, ROL Cruise will donate £25 from every booking made with them to the NHS Charities National campaign that acknowledges and supports the health and emotional wellbeing of those at the frontline of the NHS.
Meanwhile, when river cruise line CroisiEurope heard The Pompidou Hospital in Paris had to bring nurses in from further afield to help manage the coronavirus pandemic, it offered the hospital the use of their ship, MS Botticelli, which is now home to a dozen nurses.
Leading cruise company Carnival Corporation similarly offered several ships for use as hospitals for non-Covid patients to help relieve the pressure on land-based medical facilities.
To give frontline workers something to look forward to once the pandemic is over, AmaWaterways is offering the ultimate reward of a complimentary river cruise. Celestyal Cruises is also giving away 50 mini-cruises to frontline first responders, along with rolling out a special discount policy for all frontline health workers.
Additionally, Celestyal Cruises has also come to the aid of residents in Piraeus through donating over five tons of non-perishable food, first aid and hygiene items, while providing disinfectant and surgical masks to health centres dedicated to Covid-19 patients.
When it comes to donations, Fred Olsen has also been working with its contacts in Barbados to support local charities with a donation of fresh produce from a container of food supplies intended for its ship, Braemar. A container, which comprised of over 17,000kgs of chilled fruit and vegetables, was given to a number of deserving local charities.
Here in the UK, P&O Cruises’ Ventura has been supporting UK Harvest by donating her fresh produce to those in need. 8.5 tonnes of fruit and vegetables have been distributed to groups across Bognor Regis, Portsmouth, Worthing and Brighton, plus food banks in Eastbourne, Hastings, Crawley, Croydon and Southampton.
By no means an exhaustive account of how the cruising world is endeavouring to keep spirits raised, it is clear to see that even during these times of hardship and uncertainty, the cruise industry continues to help propel us through these difficult times.
Each act of kindness and generosity epitomises everything great about the cruise industry. It shines a ray of hope through the murky waters which we have found ourselves in, giving us reasons to smile and optimism for what the future holds.