Since the start of the year, cruise company stocks have lost well over half their value since. The companies continue to struggle to get back to actually cruising, the primary way that they earn revenue. And meanwhile, they continue to burn through cash as they maintain their fleets and the estimated 100,000 crew members that are currently stranded aboard the vessels, unable to disembark. With all of these headwinds, it is safe to say that the future of cruise travel is anything but certain.
In a recent Yahoo! Finance article, writer David Lazarus of the LA Times said observes that the cruise industry is sinking. Lazarus cited the fact that Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that the company could go out of business due to the current coronavirus pandemic, provoking a not so subtle conclusion from the author, "See you, fellas."
The piece goes on to rail against the cruise industry, including its role in transporting coronavirus across the world and the fact that cruise companies have acted in bad faith by not refunding fares of people who canceled their cruises just as it became clear that coronavirus was causing serious health risks for those aboard.
But in contrast to the article's thrust, that they cruise companies could go bankrupt and "so what?" misses the mark.
Sure, the cruise industry has major problems, but many of them are addressable. They could make more generous cancellation policies, and implement more stringent sanitation practices. Interestingly, the companies have already implemented both of these measures as a result of coronavirus. Going beyond the coronavirus induced challenges, the cruise industry must do more to make their ships safer in general, including providing passengers with protection against onboard sexual assault and safer excursion options.
But is it time for the cruise industry to go out of business? Not necessarily. As long as they do more to protect and respect their passengers, they could serve as a viable travel option for years to come.