Sailing safely into a new world
Norwegian full-rigged sailing ship Christian Radich opens bookings for European tourists looking for a once-in-a-lifetime summer experience in 2021.
Ida Rosenvinge, (Marketing Manager), of Sea Europe, argues that the time is nigh for passengers to set sail once again. However, a new normal demands a new approach, giving the tourism industry an opportunity to tailor experiences capable of connecting with people like never before.
How long has it been since you felt the sea breeze in your hair? Since your world bobbed gently up and down in the sunshine, sound-tracked simply by a chorus of seabirds? Since you stood on a deck and smiled – looking first down to your feet and then up towards a horizon full of possibilities? How long has it been since you were on a ship?
The world had a love affair with sailing ships. But coronavirus has done its best to split up the relationship.
Rise and fall
When we’re locked down we can’t be free – we can’t be with the people we love and we can’t do many of the things that make our hearts soar. In 2019, for almost 30 million people, that was vacationing on a vessel at sea (an increase of over 12 million against 2009).
Passenger numbers were expected to rise to in the region of 32 million in 2020, with prospects for the sector – and particularly smaller expedition voyages – having analysts reaching for their shades. But then came corona.
No sail orders, national lockdowns and a crippling halt of the global tourism trade transformed industry fortunes. It’s still difficult to have truly comprehensive figures for the year, but a drop in passenger numbers in the region of 80% seems likely.
Building firm foundations
So, the question is – how do we get started again and what does the future onboard look like? With vaccination programmes rolling out, pent up consumer demand and an overwhelming human desire to break free from the shackles of ‘home’, ships will sail again, but we can probably expect a gradual return to full steam.
New health and safety routines have to be in place (including hygiene requirements, testing and social distancing where appropriate), ports and government have to be in agreement about the transit of passengers over borders and across regions, and passengers must feel confident enough to once again set sail. That’s why many industry stakeholders, including us here at Sea Europe (operating the unique Norwegian full-rigged sailing ship Christian Radich) believe in a ‘small is beautiful’ policy.
Connecting with quality
So, what does that mean?
Well, first it means a focus on quality over quantity. That’s why we’re operating a 60 PAX ship where the majority of the time is spent in the open air, immersed in a true sailing experience, with the sight and sound of the water as constant companions.
In addition, our itinerary has been tailored to deliver short European voyages where we’re always a safe distance from shore, enabling us to access land-based facilities and infrastructure if required. We’re fully aware we’re emerging from a challenging period and want to give our passengers total peace of mind.
Pure pleasure to Cadiz, Cherbourg and more
So, Sea Europe, and other forward-thinking operators, are focusing upcoming schedules on short-hop trips that deliver both unique seaborne experiences and a sense of reassurance. In our case, the Christian Radich will be taking European passengers to sought after locations including beautiful Cherbourg, medieval Cadiz, charming Bremerhaven, magical Lisbon, and many more.
This gives a feeling that, even though you’re on the adventure of a lifetime, you’re also safe, relatively close to land and with an operator flexible enough to change schedules to meet any changing demands. It’s an easy way to get onboard with the sensation of sailing once again – only with a ‘pure’ experience that connects you with your surroundings as much as with the ship itself.
As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe this time the love affair will be even more passionate… see you onboard.