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What Returning Cruise Ship Workers Need to Keep in Mind in a COVID World

October 2, 2020
June 21, 2023
cruise ship workers on a blue boat

In early March of 2020, when the coronavirus was still mostly confined to China, outbreaks on several cruise ships were one of the first indications that a global pandemic was threatening. . The Diamond Princess Cruise ship, to name just one example, resulted in 712 total cases and 13 deaths. The cruise ship was finally able to dock at the Yokohama port near Tokyo where passengers remained in quarantine for at least 15 days. In the months that followed, the novel coronavirus spread across the world, causing many people to forget the early association of cruise ships with the pandemic. 

After several months of complete shutdown, the cruise ship industry, like most other sectors of the economy, is slowly beginning to pick back up. Below, we will briefly look at the cruise ship industry after COVID, the specific risks that cruise ship workers face, and then turn our attention to different prevention strategies that can ensure health and safety for both cruise ship employees and their patrons. 

Cruise Ship Industry Outlook After COVID

Like most sectors of the economy, the cruise industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides being forced to cancel thousands of cruises, the negative publicity generated by the early infections aboard cruise ships pushed away many customers. 

A spokesperson for the industry body Cruise Lines International Association recently told CNN that the industry expects to suffer an economic impact of $77 billion, 518,000 jobs lost, and over $23 billion in wages lost through the end of September 2020. Unlike airlines and other sectors of the economy that were also hard hit, the cruise ship industry was generally unable to benefit from the government bailouts through the economic stimulus plan. 

Despite obvious economic hardship and an enormous amount of lost jobs, the cruise ship industry is looking to rebound in 2021. One recent survey found that about 20 percent of international travelers are planning on taking a cruise trip in 2021. Furthermore, Royal Caribbean cruise lines has reported an impressive rise in its stock shares due to an increased demand for 2021 cruises. While shares fell to a record low of $19.25 in March, the current price is already back to over $70, reflecting the expected economic comeback. 

The Specific Risks Faced by Cruise Ship Employees

As cruise ships once again begin to hit the seas with travelers, cruise line employees will need to take extra precautionary measures to protect their health and that of their patrons. 

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “the current scientific evidence suggests that cruise ships pose a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission than other settings because of the high population density onboard on ships, which are typically more densely populated than cities or most other living situations.” 

Cruise ships can lower the probability of infection by reducing the amount of passengers allowed on board in order to ensure social distancing protocols. In fact, most cruise lines have stated that they will be limiting capacity on future cruises, at least until a vaccine is made widely available. 

Other strategies for prevention can include consistent use of face coverings, separate living quarters for cruise ship employees, and strict hand hygiene. Most cruise ship employees will also be tasked with daily sanitization and disinfection of the cruise ship.  Air purification technologies (such as those used by airlines) will also most likely be implemented in closed cabin areas.  

While the cruise ship industry status seems to be on the rebound, the health risks outlined above have not disappeared. Most health authorities around the world are predicting second waves of COVID-19 that could be worse than the first go-around. The cruise ship industry, then, will need to continuously find ways to protect the health of both their employees and their patrons. 

Strengthen Your Rebound With Work-Fit

Once you’ve got the CDC guidelines for sanitization in place, what else can you do? Focus on your employees. Work-Fit has valuable experience in helping employers create a wellness and prevention-centered workplace environment, whether in factories, offices, or ships that sail around the world. Our certified healthcare professionals have helped companies to boast a 98.8% recordable injury prevention success through early intervention. Our focus on injury prevention and holistic wellness within the workplace has led to an average of 2.3 behavior changes following Work-Fit services. 

Adopting prevention-based behavioral changes is one of the most important strategies to help your cruise ship employees stay healthy and protected from COVID-19. We’ll work with you and your employees to create a company culture of wellness, safety awareness, and health sustainability. In addition, whether you need temperature checks, body mechanics coaching or early injury symptom intervention, Work-Fit can help.   Contact the professionals at Work-Fit today to discover how our services can improve the health, wellness, and happiness of your employees! 


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