In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt Am Sontag, the Costa Group CEO in Europe, Michael Thamm, is clear in his beliefs. Cruising is safe, and the measures that have been taken make it even safer.
The cruise industry is suffering; record losses are mounting while newbuilds are still on the plan.
Mr. Thamm, responsible for both Costa Cruises and AIDA, heads one of the most extensive parts of Carnival Corporation. With 27 vessels and a place for 76.000 guests at any one time, the CEO has his work cut out for him.
Governments Are Blocking A Sensible Return To Cruising
AIDA and Costa cruises both had their fair share of difficult times; however, Costa Cruises has recently been on a good run with several successful voyages. AIDA has not been able to make many voyages, and according to the CEO, this has a lot to do with the German government.
Any guest who goes on a cruise abroad has to go into quarantine at home in Germany for 14 days. This is due to a German government requirement that does not accept the company’s onboard corona tests.
“We want to ensure that the corona test results are accepted on our ships on the return journey to Germany, and those cruise holidaymakers are not sent home in quarantine. That is a one hundred percent killer if you have to stay at home for two more weeks and are not allowed to work after a week’s cruise holiday.
Europe’s Largest Cruise Lines Are Making Huge Losses
Losses are mounting for both AIDA and Costa cruises. While there is hope that the industry could start on a rebound course in the springtime, right now, almost the entire fleet is at a standstill, 30,000 employees, 10,000 of whom work for Aida, are at home, and 80% of the 1400 employees in Germany are on reduced time.
Tham commented on the losses:
“We have lost 400 million euros of sales every month. We cannot compensate for this by cutting costs. In recent months, we have accumulated losses in the mid-three-digit million euro range.”
Hope for the future remains:
“I firmly believe that we will gradually have all ships in service in the course of 2021. If the pandemic allows it, this will already happen in spring. This depends on vaccines and the course of further waves of infection. The booking demand is huge.”
As we reported last week, AIDA is in talks with the German government on potentially making use of the German Economic Stabilisation Fund. While competitor TUI has already used the fund before, AIDA is looking to see if there will be a need for it later:
“We are in talks with the federal government about granting loans in the mid-three-digit million euro range. Perhaps we will do so, but it has not yet been decided. We have substantial shareholders and can refinance ourselves in the capital market.
Newbuilds Will Still Be Delivered While Cruise Industry Goes Back To Normal
There are four new vessels planned for the Costa Group, and the expectation is that all these will be delivered as expected. AIDA is looking at the AIDA Cosma and another new build in 2023, while Costa Cruises will get the Costa Firenze this year and the Costa Toscana in December 2021. After this, there will be no more newbuilds.
These will need to sail in a rapidly changing world. How the cruise experience will be in 6-months or a year is anyone’s guess, yet Mr. Thamm believes cruises will go back to normal soon:
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, guests have been served their food directly at the table. But that is an interim solution. Buffets will remain an important part of our trips in the future. And of course, there will be discos and pool parties again.”
“There will be cruises just the way they were. The high booking figures and customer satisfaction show that the product is successful and will come back. But we must also learn: an infection is not necessarily the end of the world. During the first trips, we have demonstrated how well our measures to protect against Covid 19 infection are working. In my view, traveling on our cruise ships is practically risk-free.”
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