All of a sudden, it seems like cruise lines have their eyes set on the finish line. More and more companies are focusing on getting their bookings up for late summer, as well as looking at possible strategies to allow them to sail sooner than the worst case scenario. Of course, sailing sooner means you also have to sail safer, so these same companies are undergoing changes to help ensure that they are much better prepared to deal with the coronavirus.
TUI Group is a large conglomerate (TUI stands for Touristik Union International) that owns and operates several different travel companies, Marella, TUI, and Hapag-Lloyd. The current plan for these TUI-owned companies is to restart operations this summer, and they are taking the threat of coronavirus very seriously.
Perhaps the biggest concern many have with travel venues like cruise ships is the sheer number of people that are packed in close quarters with one another. Coronavirus is an airborne disease that is largely spread through particles emitted by sneezing, coughing and breathing, meaning being in crowds is generally a pretty bad idea. TUI realizes this and plans to begin services with far fewer people on their cruise ships than normal. Many of their ships have an occupancy cap around 3000 passengers normally, but this will be cut down to 1000 when their operations pick back up again. This will make social distancing far easier across all of their ships.
Restrictions on public areas
In addition to an overarching occupancy limit, there will be more specific limits that are placed on public areas. These areas need to be looked at closely, as they are where most large gatherings occur on ships. TUI will be enforcing limits on how many people can be in these areas at once, which once again allows for easier social distancing and rule enforcement.
Dining areas will be getting an overhaul on TUI ships, as well. The biggest change is that self-serve food will no longer be available. This makes sense, as buffet areas with shared surfaces and foods have been pointed at by experts as places where diseases can easily spread, whether that’s coronavirus or anything else.
Outbreak Prevention Plan Level 3
Beyond all of these measures, perhaps what is most important for them reopening their ships is what they are calling Outbreak Prevention Plan Level 3. This is a policy that outlines various ways for the ships to not only be constantly working on preventing outbreaks, but to also be prepared for any that might occur. Surfaces will be cleaned incredibly frequently, and the amount of medical staff on-board will be ramped up.
We like to see measures like this! It seems that most cruise lines are looking to open up this summer, and they may as well do it as safely as possible if they’re going to do it at all. The occupancy limits on their ships is an interesting step, and we’re interested to see if other cruise lines consider doing the same. If you’re interested in keeping up-to-date on TUI’s specific measures as time goes on, check out their
website for detailed information.