The ongoing pandemic has compelled cruise companies to forget rivalries and come together to counter the scenario, according to Yahoo Finance. Case in point, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH have teamed up to develop safety standards.
Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, are serving as co-chairs of a newly formed group of experts called the Healthy Sail Panel. The expert panel, which has been working for approximately a month, will provide their initial recommendations by the end of August.
Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group said “Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”
The leisure industry has been grappling with the ongoing pandemic with travel warnings and cruise cancellations starting to take a toll on cruise lines. The players are thus offering modified booking and cancellation policies to woo hesitant cruisers to tide over this unprecedented situation.
In the mid-March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order for all cruise ships. In last month, Norwegian Cruise extended previously announced suspension of global cruise voyages owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The extension of suspension includes all voyages for Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises embarking between Aug 1 and Sep 30.
However, cancellations exclude September Seattle-based Alaska voyages. Owing to travel and port restrictions, the company has cancelled select voyages through October 2020, including Canada and New England sailings.
Norwegian Cruise carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), while Royal Caribbean has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Shares of Norwegian Cruise and Royal Caribbean have fallen 72.4% and 62.5%, respectively, compared with the industry’s decline of 48.5%.
According to the travel industry news site, both companies plan to limit the number of passengers who can embark on their cruise ships in order to comply with CDC guidelines. Additionally, the companies are working out ways to maintain social distance among passengers once they're on board, including measures for staggered boarding times, limiting the number of people who can be in onboard restaurants at the same time, adding more on-board events to decrease density at each event, and so on.
Meanwhile, TravelPulse notes that Carnival, while not participating in its rivals' task force, will participate in a July 23 virtual summit held by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to discuss measures for safe cruising in a world where the coronavirus remains a threat.
Investors appear to be taking encouragement from the companies' proactive efforts to prepare for the day when they do resume cruising. The better prepared they are beforehand, the sooner that day may arrive -- and the sooner all three of these companies can begin bringing in some consumer discretionary revenue to offset their fixed operating costs and begin to extinguish their ongoing cash burn