Welcome to Passenger Vessel Week!

Island Aurora (Photo: BC Ferries)

The protracted existence of the Covid-19 problem seems certain to change the face of the passenger vessel industry for the lengthy foreseeable future. Passengers and government authorities, particularly in the developed world, are going to demand much greater space both on vessels and in their embarkation and disembarkation infrastructure.

This, inevitably, will mean significantly fewer passengers on each vessel, probably half as many or less, than we have become used to. The reality of that is that ticket pricing will have to rise but, probably, to nowhere near double current levels.

Having enjoyed many ferry voyages over my lengthy maritime career, I have, apart from on the Chao Phraya River ferries in Thailand and inter-island vessels in the Philippines, rarely been aboard a truly full ferry. Even the Thames Clippers at peak hour and Greece’s Aegean ferries in high summer recently have been far from full. Also, on my last cruise ship voyage, five years ago, the ship was, thankfully, less than 30 per cent full.

So, as passengers will demand more space, the fact that many vessels operate less than full most of the time anyway, means the adjustment may well be less painful financially than it appears at first glance. The spacing out of fewer chairs and cabins will be a money-saving start. Handling fewer passengers will also obviously save money.

Ferries should largely solve the problem by designing more space between chairs and, for the “fossil” ferries that still have sleeping cabins, they will simply have to halve their number. Their owners will be largely able to solve that problem, longer term, by buying fast ferries that do not require sleeping accommodation.

Ferries • Ro-Pax • Marine Tourism • Cruise • Freshwater

I suspect that the days of huge, 5,000-passenger “beer barn” cruise ships are over. It is interesting that the huge Carnival Group is already scrapping some ships while trying to sell others and some of their multitude of “brands” such as Cunard. One assumes, given its appallingly “diseased” name, that Princess Cruises will be chopped shortly.

Smaller, more exclusive cruise ships have become increasingly popular of late for both inland waterways and so-called “expedition” cruising. Passengers are clearly prepared to pay more to travel on those smaller ships. They may have to pay even more if their owners are required to reduce their capacity further but they will almost certainly be prepared to do so if it enhances their feeling of safety and exclusivity.

The coronavirus has certainly turned our world on its head. Anyone operating in the travel, catering and entertainment sectors is going to have to adapt to that reality quickly and drastically. The passenger vessel industry, being heavily involved in all those sectors, is destined to have to change more than most.

That, though, will not necessarily be a bad thing longer term. As always, when massive socio-economic changes afflict the world, the dinosaurs are extinguished and the nimble, forward-thinkers flourish. That is certain to happen with the passenger vessel sector.

Vessel Reviews:

Features and Opinion:

  • Coming soon…

News, Gear and Book Reviews:

Recent Important Features:

EDITORIAL | Brilliant opportunity presented with Tasmanian ferry decision

– “Tasmania has a wonderful opportunity to introduce a world leading service on this very popular route and, at the same time, to show off a world-leading local product.”

by Neil Baird, co-founder, Baird Maritime

FEATURE | Safety considerations for Australia’s Northern Territory guided fishing industry association

– “However iconic, laid back, and beautiful the Northern Territory may be, local guided fishing operators understand well that they can’t afford to take a laid-back attitude to safety.”

by Becca Posterino and Sarah Cameron

FEATURE | Can the cruise industry be saved?

– “…there’s no more compelling time for the cruise industry to examine every aspect of its business.”

by Michael Shapiro

COLUMN | Improving ferry safety in Southeast Asia [The Wet Detective]

– “Having a highly visible ‘seal of approval’ and score would be a move in the right direction.”

by Mike Wall, marine surveyor and consultant

COLUMN | After Covid-19 – it’s anyone’s guess [Grey Power]

“Will people still go cheerfully jetting off to join their cruises all around the world, at least until there are vaccines that have proved to work?”

– by Michael Grey, former long-term editor of Lloyds List

FEATURE | Flags of convenience and the coronavirus cruise ship debacle

– “The pandemic has shown that cruise shipping is essentially an unregulated industry that has thrived in an environment lacking rules. Will Covid-19 change that?”

– by David Millar, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

COLUMN | International Safety Management Code failures [The Wet Detective]

– “What is the verdict thirty years on? It appears that those who don’t need the ISM system are applying it diligently whilst those that need it are only paying lip service to it, but the jury is still out…”

– by Mike Wall, marine surveyor and consultant

Remember to come back every day to see the latest news, opinion and vessel reviews!

Call for content!

Any news or views about the global maritime tourism, ferry and cruise industries? Send it through to [email protected] ASAP (between now and August 14), so we can add it to this current edition of Passenger Vessel Week!

We are after:

  • Vessels – Orders, new deliveries, under construction
  • Gear – Latest innovations and technology in the passenger vessel sector
  • Interviews – Owners, operators, terminal authorities, passenger vessel associations etc.
  • Reminiscences – Do you have any exciting, amusing or downright dangerous anecdotes from your time in the passenger vessel world? (example here)
  • Other – Any other relevant news

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Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.