In 2012, Global Traveler compiled a group of its subscribers to serve as its Globility Board. After an interview and vetting process, the members have served the publication in many capacities: as a focus group for clients, as a resource for articles and, now, to provide thoughts, suggestions and more for the cruise industry as it faces the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is the first in a four-part series with our Globility Board. They also came together to offer support for tourism boards, airlines and hotels.
On our cruise committee was Dorothy Wood, an avid cruiser, president emeritus of JD&W Inc. and active in her Virginia Beach community; Jim Elliott, an avid traveler for more than 40 years who has worked in, lived in and visited more than 100 countries; Eric Ludwig, former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, responsible for a core network across six continents before joining a faith-based non-profit; Marvin Singer spent 40 years in federal service and retired as senior advisor in the Department of Energy; Joe Cestaro, a lifetime traveler who has visited five continents and is CEO of Debt Reduction Services and Budget Brokerage, along with his partner and fellow committee member Mark Rizkowsky, also with Debt Reduction Services and an avid traveler from his base in New York City.
When we asked what recommendations the committee had for the cruise industry during these times, Wood, who was supposed to be on an Azamara cruise during the time of the late March meeting and through May, found she was most disappointed in the communication from the cruise line. She found the communication and last-minute decision to cancel the cruise “completely unacceptable.”
Ludwig suggested using the ships around the world for good, an opportunity to help the public; Singer expressed a similar sentiment, recommending some of the idled ships serve as hospitals. Cestaro and Rizkowsky were surprised to learn the congressional funding wouldn’t help the cruise industry; they believe appropriate communication via email and phone, without inundating people, is the best practice. All agreed daily emails are too much, a few weekly updates from different cruise lines are acceptable.
After this crisis is over, how can the cruise industry make travelers feels better about returning to ships? More comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting procedures was No. 1, along with more medical staff onboard and clearer contingency plans for when crises occur. Cestaro and Rizkowsky believe cruises won’t restart until it’s safe, for fear of business suicide.
As cruise status is unlike airline and hotel status, which must be re-earned each year, some members stated giving people additional perks during this time would water down the benefits. However, others agree extras would be welcome for passengers whose cruises were disrupted this year.
All recommended we at FXExpress Publications, Inc. not shy away from telling the stories of the travel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. They suggested telling the stories of interrupted journeys, with a focus on how the situations were resolved. Singer had friends stuck on a cruise ship refused entry in Peru and Chile, docking more than a week late in Miami after crossing the Panama Canal, while another set of friends were stuck in South Korea after a cruise ended early.
Click here for an update on cruise line cancellations and rebooking policies.
If this crisis ends in 60–90 days, where would you travel? Wood said she won’t be traveling for some time, while Elliott has a cruise from New York to Greenland scheduled for August. Ludwig would like to take a Baltic Sea cruise to see Tallinn, and Singer is exploring his options for a Japan cruise on a small (about 200-passenger) ship.
What suggestions do you have for the cruise industry in the face of the COVID-19 crisis? Share with us at email@example.com.
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