Coronavirus: Cruise lines clamp down on China carryings

Shanghai at night, photo credit Dave Jones
Cruise lines will deny boarding to passengers and crew who have recently been in China as cases of deadly coronavirus grew.

More than 17,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed and 361 deaths in mainland China alone.

There are more than 150 confirmed cases outside China, including two in the UK, with the first death reported in the Philippines.


Cruise trade body Clia announced the clampdown on Friday, denying boarding to those passengers or crew who have travelled from or through mainland China in the previous 14 days.

A number of cruise ships have already cancelled China sailings and altered Asia itineraries, including departures from Shanghai.

The association said: “Clia and its member lines maintain close contact with health professionals and regulators around the world, including the World Health Organisation, and are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge.

“This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances, as well as health, travel and contact screening where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently travelled from or through the affected area consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities.

“Screening protocols allow for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be denied boarding.

“Clia members have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.

“Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew.

“Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand.

“Furthermore, Clia members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.”

NCLH Honored in New York for Gender Milestone

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has been honoured by the Women’s Forum of New York at the Breakfast of Corporate Champions in New York City, an event which recognizes the S&P 500/Fortune 1000 companies which have achieved 30 per cent or greater female representation on their corporate boards.

The event gathers more than 600 leaders and change-makers including CEOs, board directors and government officials in support of the shared goal of gender parity in the boardroom by 2025.

“Our board is committed to seeking out directors and management leadership with diverse backgrounds. We have actively recruited women and members of minority groups to where today our board is comprised of 30 per cent women and 60 per cent members with diverse backgrounds,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.

Two years ago, Norwegian Cruise Line appointed its first female director to its board: Stella David, former CEO of William Grant and Sons Limited. In 2018, retired U.S. Coast Guard rear admiral Mary Landry, and Pamela Thomas-Graham, founder and CEO of Dandelion Chandelier LLC were appointed as new directors to the company’s board.

“As an organization of top women leaders, the Women’s Forum of New York salutes the 2019 Corporate Champions which are raising the bar for female board representation by actively seeking more women directors,” said Janice Ellig, CEO of the Ellig Group and chair and founder of the Breakfast of Corporate Champions.

Stella David is a Cambridge University graduate with a degree in engineering, who has extensive management experience with companies such as William Grant & Sons, Bacardi, Nationwide Building Society and others.

Mary E. Landry has a 35-year career in maritime operations, including service on the White House National Security Council and Senior Director for Resilience Policy, and active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the founder and CEO of Dandelion Chandelier LLC, a private digital media enterprise focused on global luxury, who has also worked for Credit Suisse, Angelo, Gordon & Co, and was president at Liz Claiborne and at CNBC. She began her career at McKinsey & Company, in 1989, and became the firm’s first African American female partner in 1995. She is a Doctor of Law from Harvard University.

Cruise lines brace for a downturn as presidential election looms

Photo Credit: Elnur/Shutterstock

With less than a year to go until the 2020 presidential election, travel suppliers and sellers are bracing for the slowdown that typically accompanies an election year’s commotion and distractions.

Every four years, sales run into headwinds as politicians and interest groups load up on ad time and consumers, especially in battleground states, are besieged with debates about the fate of the nation. 

And this time, the quadrennial cycle could be a doozy, as impeachment proceedings run parallel to the election campaign.

“It will be a very interesting Wave season, for sure,” said John Chernesky, senior vice president for North American sales and trade marketing at Princess Cruises. 

Chernesky said Princess is taking steps to mitigate the anticipated pause in bookings momentum that has built up this year.

“I think at Princess we’re seeing a good forward booking curve going into 2020, but we’re not oblivious to the fact that, historically, there has been a business downturn in the election years,” Chernesky said. “So we’re trying to work with our trade partners as best we can to essentially base-load as much as possible into the [coming] year. 

“We know the marketing spend next year is going to be less effective than this year, because there’s going to be so many distractions,” Chernesky said.

In 2016, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent $1.8 billion on the election, much of it for television ads, some of the same news, public affairs and sports programming favoured by cruise lines.

Eva Jenner, vice president of sales at Holland America Line (HAL), said what’s true for Princess and HAL is true industrywide.

“We all are aiming at the same goal of base-loading and having a further [out] booking window than ever before,” she said.

For agents, that means that some of the best pricing for 2020 is available now when consumer receptivity to the cruise line marketing message hasn’t yet become blocked by political static.

“If nothing more, it might be a great year for consumers,” said Michelle Fee, president of Coral Springs, Fla.-based Cruise Planners. “It’s the travel advisor’s job to let the consumer know, ‘Hey, this is a great deal. You might not see this next year.’ So we need to continue to be in the marketplace and get the word out.”\

Although travel advisors have been aware of it for years, the presidential election-year slump in sales was documented in research by the Virtuoso travel network that it released at its Las Vegas conference in August.

Virtuoso found that U.S. travel sales grew an average of 14.3% in a year before a presidential election, but only an average of 2.9% in the year of an election. In 2016, sales actually fell 0.2%, after growing 15.4% the year before.

One reason for the slump, according to some, is the reluctance of consumers to make big-purchase decisions while economic uncertainty hangs in the air. Some support for that theory comes from data on auto and home sales.

Meyers Research, a real estate data firm, examined the past 13 presidential elections and found that home-sales activity dropped 15% in the November of an election year, versus 8% in the same month a year later.

And a 2016 study for Dealer.com, a site for car shoppers, found shopping behavior dropped 9% year over year in the months going into a presidential election in battleground states where no one candidate was a clear favourite.

James Grace, then director of analytics product management at the site, attributed some of the slumps to a spike in the cost of digital advertising, leading to fewer car ads and diminished shopping.

Sheer uncertainty could also factor into the presidential election-year slump. For example, travel sales in the U.K. have sputtered this year as the government has repeatedly tried and failed to resolve the terms of its exit from the EU.

But Fee said the daily combat between Trump and Democrats might have already caused consumers to tune out.

“If you look back historically, there are things that happened that used to shut our business down,” Fee said. “If something would happen in Europe, it was six months before people would travel there.” 

Not anymore, Fee said. “Today, we’re numb to all of it, so they might be numb to the presidential election, too.”

Fee is telling Cruise Planners agents to stay positive and stick to business. 

“I feel like we need to focus on people who we know travel through it all and who might be celebrating some kind of milestone,” she said.

With newly developed analytics, agency groups such as Cruise Planners can find prospects celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary or a 60th birthday, for example. 

“They’re not going to wait until next year to go because of an election year,” Fee said.

Another positive for agents that could help offset the election-year drag is a tsunami of new cruise ships. Twenty-one vessels are set to debut in 2020, including first vessels from new lines such as Virgin Voyages and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection as well as the first ship with a roller coaster being rolled out by Carnival Cruise Line.

Doug Seagle, Seabourn’s vice president of business development, said, “A good counter to everything that’s going on in the world is that there’s a lot of new product out there. New product raises consumer awareness and creates excitement. Our travel partners want to get that message out there so that it counters the negativity in the marketplace.”