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Cruise ship capacity could be cut by more than a third

Benjamin Parker
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration will be back sailing in July

Strict hygiene measures are being considered by one cruise line, alongside social distancing rules and temperature checks

Passengers should expect a lot more space on board when cruising resumes if ships follow the advice of one line and chop more than a third of capacity.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line said it intends to limit the number of cabins by closing two passenger decks – which will leave capacity 40 per cent lower than normal.

Cruise holidays are paused across the world as the industry grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

Bahamas Paradise is one of the first lines to give a clear summary on how post-pandemic sailing will look, and how the experience is likely to change for travellers.

As well as lowering capacity, health and safety measures will include the disinfection of luggage before loading, pre-boarding temperature checks for passengers, fogging cleans of vacant cabins and strict social distancing protocols.

“As things begin to return to normal after months of quarantine, we can all use a quick getaway. When we return, our on board experience may look a little different to our guests,” said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.

“The wellness of our passengers and crew members remains our top priority and, as such, passengers can expect enhanced sanitisation procedures from embarkation to disembarkation so that they can enjoy a relaxing, safe, stress-free getaway.”

As expected, self-service buffets have been removed, with all food and drink served by crew members who will wear face masks, gloves, hats and aprons.

For shore excursions, tour buses will run at 50 per cent capacity and Bahamas said all operators will be trained using World Health Organisation guidelines.

The new approach extends to crew members, who will be required to undergo temperature checks twice a day.

The medical centre will have isolated wards for passengers who are concerned they may have been exposed to Covid-19.

Sailings for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line are due to resume again on Grand Celebration from July 25, and from October 2 on Grand Classica.

But Britons will be unable to join these voyages if the UK Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel remains in place. From June 8, British travellers could also be required to self-isolate when returning to the UK. 

Although Bahamas Paradise isn’t among the major cruise lines, its plans for safe cruising when travel restrictions ease could influence other operators, which have been discussing similar steps.

Scylla, which plans to return to action from June 1 with a cruise in Germany, is also planning on fewer customers, compulsory face masks and the removal of self-service dining. 

And earlier this month Daniel Skjeldam, chief executive of Hurtigruten, told Telegraph Travel that there were hundreds of possibilities from screening to cleaning under consideration, including potentially testing guests before they came on board the ships. It would only become mandatory to wear face masks on board if there was conclusive scientific evidence in favour of such a measure.

“That will be a last resort and we will wait as long as possible before making that decision,” Mr Skjeldam said, acknowledging it could be a deterrent for passengers if it was mandatory to wear them in a holiday environment.

But the vast majority of cruise companies are keeping quiet on how their future operations might look.

Tui said it didn’t yet have the details of what sailings would look like, and Royal Caribbean said it was unable to provide information at this time.

A spokesperson for P&O Cruises and Cunard Line was unable to give specific detail but said that “new enhanced measures may, no doubt, encompass rigorous pre-embarkation screening, changes to the on-board experience for guests”.