Look, these are strange times. We’re all stuck in our houses eating the same meal over and over (probably), we haven’t seen most of our friends in weeks (most likely), and we are all going a tiny bit crazy (definitely). Before the pandemic struck, lots of us used to beat cabin fever and any other general crazinesses by traveling, and cruising was just perfect. But now that cruise lines are shut down for the foreseeable future, what are we to do to recapture that feeling?
A few forward-thinking companies out there have come up with solutions. Cruise lines like Fred. Olsen and Lindblad have developed online, digital cruise experiences. While moving cruises onto our computers for the time being may sound a bit weird, it makes more sense than it seems at first glance. Cruises are less of a singular experience and more of a collection of different experiences that cater to different audiences. Sure, some people just want to lounge in the sun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But others go cruising for the interesting cuisine they can sample, the local histories they can learn or the eye-opening expert lectures they can listen to. Creating a website that combines all of these things together – alongside a focus on vessels and exotic locales – really does justice to the experience of cruises.
The world of digital cruises also offers another very important thing during this time: a sense of community. Letting users not only connect with the company but also with each other kills off some of the loneliness that many of us are feeling. Additionally, it mimics the communal feeling of cruising, where travel is a group activity that also allows for individual experiences. These sites have managed to do this through allowing users to contribute content to different sections, which feels more meaningful than simple discussion boards or comment sections.
Of course, cruise lines can’t be expected to only be motivated to create great experiences for their customers, and we aren’t suggesting that. Creating these digital experiences is crucial for the companies themselves, too. If consumers are frequently checking in to a certain cruise line’s website throughout their quarantine, they are bound to develop a higher sense of brand loyalty. This is the type of loyalty that will really influence who they’re bound to book a cruise with after the pandemic dies down. It’s easy to not have travel on our minds at all during this time; these digital experiences ensure that travelers don’t forget about cruises, and more importantly, specific cruise lines.
These communities that are being fostered by cruise lines like Fred. Olsen and Lindblad are great examples of what should be done by companies right now. While it’s not an investment that will immediately pay out, it will help contribute to a company’s ability to bounce back once they’re able to hit the sea again. Plus, really, we just need more things to do while we’re stuck at home. So get on it, cruise industry!