The cruise sector needs to think hard about how it can meet the social distancing requirements linked to COVID-19 while still delivering the expected luxurious experience of being onboard a cruise liner, all without destroying and bankrupting the industry.
Christian Ioannou, Managing Director of MCTC Leisure, said that while the industry was being hit hard by COVID-19, life post virus would be very different. Costs will increase due to limitations in passenger numbers because of social distancing restrictions and there will be an increase in hygiene procedures and extra precautions in place to provide a safe environment, he added.
“The overall client experience is changing, as table service will be limited and buffets will no longer be allowed. The tide is turning towards digitalisation and away from human contact. Menus will be displayed digitally, and orders placed online to limit exposure to others to help increase safety levels. In turn, it means that prices will increase in dining experiences as cruise lines need to cover their operating expenditure regardless of client numbers,” he added.
The industry is smart and will adapt, Ioannou said, “I believe we will see an increase in high-end dishes, not in respect to expensive ingredients though, because we need to substitute the loss of the dining experience. À La Carte service will be the heart of the restaurant and menus will need to entice diners inside and away from room service. Food is more than just a nutritional need. It’s an experience and if these elements no longer exist then demand will decline. Overall the expectation for fine dining shall be a necessity for the industry to keep catering onboard afloat”.