Another day, another new COVID variant, it seems. For many of us, the question is: what kind of impact will the Omicron variant have on cruises? As of right now, things are uncertain. Data about Omicron is particularly scarce, and no one seems sure how different it really is than the current dominant variant, Delta. However, with multiple countries around the world halting travel in response to Omicron, it’s natural to begin to worry that the cruise industry may be affected. Here’s what we currently know and what we might expect moving forward.
Is the new variant worse?
Before we discuss this COVID variant, we’d like to stress that we are not doctors or scientists. And, unfortunately, very little data has been released so far about Omicron. According to the New York Times, South African health officials who have looked at the variant are claiming that they are not yet seeing a reason for panic. That’s a great sign. In a World Health Organization report on the variant, however, the possibility of increased hospitalizations (among other factors) was discussed. The key thing to keep in mind at this point is that this is a very new variant and little analysis has been performed. The best thing we can do now is wait and see what happens.
Cruise stocks fall
Despite calls from South Africa to not panic and the fact that very little information is available, the stock market recently saw a large drop due to global uncertainty around Omicron. The cruise industry was not unscathed during this fall. According to Cruise Industry News, On November 26th, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean stocks both dropped about 10%. Lindblad also suffered, dropping about 5%. This seemed to match the overall trend in the market, but it still showed that cruise lines were not immune to the market changes caused by coronavirus.
Travel restrictions and cruise bans?
While plummeting stocks may or may not be bad omens for the future, there are bigger worries that may be on the horizon. Many countries have cut off travel to South Africa, a large hub for cruise travel, and others like Israel have shut down travel completely. If this continues, it is likely that we will see cruise travel interrupted, potentially for quite some time.
However, the critical piece to remember is that this is all contingent on whether or not data on the Omicron variant appears to be particularly threatening. It may end up that there is not much to worry about. In that case, business will go on as usual. As has been the lesson of this entire pandemic, we have to keep in mind that we can’t guess what will happen next. We’ll just have to wait.