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Coronavirus has had a major impact on every single industry in the world. The cruise and travel industry is no different. While cruising is currently on hold, the industry will no doubt be back. Some cruise lines are even looking to resume sailing by the end of summer 2020.
While the virus has no doubt scared off some potential clients, at least in the short term, die-hard cruisers and others hoping to get on the high seas are chomping at the bit to board the ship and set sail on the high seas.
Cruise lines like Disney Cruise Line have stated that will not resume cruising until both the government and they determine it is safe to do so while other cruise lines seem to be chomping at the bit to start sailing again.
Cruise Lines are a giant city on the sea but social distancing on a cruise ship? Not as simple as social distancing in your home or even on vacation.
Disney’s Bob Chapek has already stated that they expect Disney Cruise Line to be the last of their travel ventures to resume operations. So, when cruising does come back what changes could be in store for cruise guests?
Let’s jump in.
Self-Serve Buffets and… Soft Serve (Gasp)
Everyone loves a good buffet on a cruise ship but we expect the days of self serve to be a thing of the past and for cruise lines to move towards a system where the food remains the same and the unlimited quantities remain but instead of serving ones self buffet style, cruise ships will likely go toward more staffing behind the food to serve guests the foods that they choose.
This is a much more sanitary way of serving food in the first place. We don’t mean to get down and dirty in the food department but even the cleanest of cruise ships, the Disney cruise ships, can’t keep snotty, germy hands of all ages from spreading that unsanitary love over all the utensils and food being served on a buffet.
Guests would still be able to choose from a plethora of items and be able to indulge in limitless shrimp, fried rice and desserts but would be served by staff.
In addition to this, we see this being the end of the self-serve soft serve on cruise ships. Let’s not get carried away, we think there will still be plenty of opportunity to indulge in soft serve and other treats but Disney and other cruise lines will simply take away the self-serve part of the equation which is better for all of us.
We have seen some crazy stuff at those self-serve stands including people filling their cone and then topping it off after some direct mouth to soft serve contact. We’ve seen kids stick their mouths right under the soft-serve dispenser and we’ve even seen fingers getting stuck up into and under the machine to get a taste.
Although we are big fans of the soft-serve on the cruise ship, we are on board with eliminating these and other less than appetizing practices by putting a castmember there to monitor the situation.
Multi-Party Tables in Dining Rooms
Many cruise dining rooms have multi-party dining. This means that some smaller parties are seated with other parties during dining in the main dining rooms. We see this coming to an end for a few reasons when cruising resumes.
Multi-party dining does not allow for social distancing and many cruise lines are announcing that they will be sailing at less than 100% capacity which means that multi-party dining is no longer necessary to accomodate all guests in the main dining rooms.
Character Meet and Greets
Parks have announced that character meet and greets are temporaily suspended and even character dining has been paused for the time being. We see this possibly being extended to the cruise ships in order to reduce contact and lines.
This is a major change and a big draw for Disney Cruise Line so we also envision Disney working to come up with an alternative for completely canceling the meet and greet opportunities on board.
One such option would be to have the characters out on a small stage or pedastel and for guests to be allowed interaction without touching.
The check-in process with Disney Cruise line is already something that Disney has worked hard to space out guests and reduce lines. However, Disney has not been strict regarding guests sticking to their allotted check-in time. That could and most likely will change as Disney works to reduce lines even further and reduce congestion on the terminal to help with social distancing.
Cruise lines could be moving to an online check in process similar to what Disney does with the My Disney Experience App. Since Disney has a cruise app, they might be able to create a similar process with the cruise line, having check-in documents and other important items for you cruise already in your room or sent to you in advance.
Disney has already announced that they are moving to an online-check in and check-out system for resorts you can read more about that HERE! We see cruise lines doing the same at least temporarily and having guests complete as much of the check-in process as possible prior to embarkation day.
Cruise ships and resorts have a big issue when it comes to reopening with social distancing and that includes their pools. Although we don’t see social distancing efforts lasting long-term, Disney will likely need to implement a few social distancing measures onboard ships for the short term. This could include limiting the number of lounge chairs next to the pools and limiting the number of occupants in the pool areas. This presents a challenge for cruise ships, particularly on at sea days where the pools become packed with people wrangling for a chair and a spot in the pool.
Crowded Shows in Theaters and in the Lobby Atrium
Disney Cruise Line and other cruise lines as well are known for their broadway caliber shows. We don’t think this will be an end to those shows in fact we think that if anything, we could see an increase in the number of times the show is offered throughout the day. Disney already does this with their Frozen show onboard the Disney Wonder. The ship offers three showings of the popular show in order to reduce overcrowding in the theater and allow more guests to see the show.
If social distancing measures are still being enforced when sailings resume, we see this being a great way for Disney to reduce crowd sizes in the theaters.
Increased Emphasis on Health Pre-Cruise and During the Cruise
That pesky pre-trip health questionaire that people consistently lie on so that they don’t quite literally miss the ship is likely to become more in depth. People showing symptons of sickness will likely be turned away and it is highly likely that Disney and other cruise lines will implement mandatory temperature checks before boarding.
Changes to Ports of Call and Itineraries
At the time of publishing, Disney Cruise Line has extended the suspension of all sailings from Europe through October 2, 2020, from Canada through September 14, 2020 and all sailings on the Disney Dream and Fantasy through July 27, 2020.
Although sailing will resume, each island and government has control over whether or not they allow ships to dock and passengers to disembark on their soil. It is highly likely that ports of call will continue to be altered and/or additional sea days added in order to accomodate the wishes of each cruise destination.
Increase in Single Use and Disposable toiletries and utensils
Disney Cruise Line had pledged to eliminate all single use cups and straws back in 2019. The goal was to completely eliminate all single use plastics on board within the next few years. Although we are sure Disney is working hard to keep on track with that pledge, the return to some single single use items could be eminent at least temporarily once sailings resume.
This could affect single use toiletries. I can already hear some of you rejoicing. You know that we are not in that group who would be excited to see these return as we are extremely proud of Disney for doing away with them and reducing their footprint in that way. However, from a sanitation perspective it could be a temporary reality post-coronavirus.
However, this is one area we are not sure about. With increased cleaning and sanitation in all areas of Disney resorts, we could see daily sanitation being put in place instead of the single use items returning.
Another area we could see cruise lines, at least some cruise lines increasing single use items is cutlery and glasses. This would enable the crew to focus their sanitation efforts in other areas and single use plastics would decrease the risk of viruses and germs being spread through touching these items.
Enforced Boarding Times
Look for cruise lines to be much stricter on boarding times. This will help decrease crowding in the terminal and increase ease of boarding.
These are some of the areas we expect to see changes in for cruisers once cruising resumes. Disney Cruise Line has not made any annoucements regarding when cruises will resume so stay tuned for For Love of the Mouse as we learn more and share that info with you.
Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.