Dubrovnik Cruiser Trends – Daring to Hope for Recovery in 2021

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic
Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after the government lifted a previously introduced ban on large cruisers entering Croatian ports a few days ago, which was entered into force last year to fight the coronavirus pandemic, conditions were created for preparing for a tourist season that could be significantly better than last year for Dubrovnik, Croatia’s main cruise destination.

According to the announcements of global cruise companies, Dubrovnik could generate 80 percent more cruise traffic throughout the year 2021 than it managed last year, or 60 percent of the pre-pandemic traffic seen back in 2019, but only if the epidemiological situation stabilises and the conditions for crossing European Union (EU) borders are properly defined as soon as possible.

In addition to the above, protocols for dealing with various possible scenarios should be introduced as soon as possible, from how to act in the case of an infected passenger onwards. Dubrovnik cruiser trends for this summer are hanging on many factors being properly accounted for, both at the national and at the European Union level.

The City of Dubrovnik has therefore prepared a draft protocol that Mayor Mato Frankovic sent to the Croatian Government on Wednesday, modelled on what both Greece and Cyprus boast, as these are currently the European countries most active in their work and efforts to see tourism make a comeback along their shores in summer 2021.

“We´re monitoring what our competitors are doing across the rest of the Mediterranean and we have used their solutions to compile our own protocols for action, and we expect to have the quick support of the Government, which responded to our request to define the situation with cruisers. We met several times with representatives of the World Association of Cruising Companies (CLIA) and agreed and defined everything, which was very important to do on time. That´s why we insisted, along with the Government, on the conclusion of a proper decision as soon as possible allowing large ships to enter. It is very important that shipping companies know their destinations on time, so that they can start selling tickets,¨ explained Frankovic when discussing 2021´s potential Dubrovnik cruiser trends.

Although there are a lot of inquiries when it comes to Dubrovnik cruiser trends for 2021, there is still work to be done to reach the maximum potential of the summer tourist season, according to the mayor, who mentioned the current bad epidemiological situation in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which has already jeopardised some previously planned programmes.

“We should always keep in mind that Dubrovnik is just one of the destinations on any given cruise route and that everything will depend on the epidemiological situation. Thus, for example, the idea of ​​cooperation with American Viking failed, due to the bad epidemiological situation in the county. In addition, some companies have launched programmes under some bilateral agreements between countries. For example, Royal Carribean has launched programmes for Greece, but only for guests from Israel, and only vaccinated ones,¨ Mato Frankovic pointed out.

Sales are beginning despite all uncertainties…

Royal Caribbean International has announced that it will launch a voyage from Israel in May, with a combination of a three- to seven-night cruise programme on the Greek islands and then on to Cyprus. Ticket sales start on March the 9th, and the cruises themselves will begin departing as of the month of May.

The programme is the result of a bilateral agreement to introduce the controversial ¨Covid passports¨ between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, and a mitigating circumstance is the high vaccination coverage of Israeli residents. On their new ship “Odyssey of the Sea”, for which this is the premiere voyage, everyone over the age of sixteen will have to have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

In fact, as discriminatory as the request for vaccination of tourists may seem and most do not officially advocate it, it seems that most cruise companies will ask their guests to be vaccinated against the new coronavirus at the time of boarding, to avoid “hostage crises” and additional related health complications.

Last week, the same move was announced by luxury travel company Crystal, which found when undertaking market research that this would be one of the criteria for their customers to choose a cruise. Prior to them, back in January, the British cruise company announced that it would ask all guests to be vaccinated two weeks before boarding.

The same criteria are being introduced by U.S. river cruisers, after their potential guests also said they would feel safer with fellow travellers who have been vaccinated against the virus. Frankovic pointed out that this actually suits the destinations that the ships are heading to.

“It will actually be convenient for us as destinations, and it will facilitate all of the needed protocols. For guests who have not had the vaccination, we will introduce a protocol for them to visit the city in small groups, as well as all institutions, museums, walls, for which there will be no need for vaccinated guests. There will certainly not be opportunities for cruise guests to tour the city individually like they did before,¨ he explained.

Frankovic is more than aware that the level of vaccination against the novel coronavirus in the destinations these enormous vessels head to is also of paramount importance. That is why the people of Dubrovnik are very active in getting everyone vaccinated as soon as possible, in order to welcome the summer tourist season as safely as possible.

So far, about 4,000 people have been vaccinated in Croatia´s southernmost city and tourist Mecca, a mass vaccination of about 1,000 citizens is planned for Monday, and by June, the majority of Dubrovnik´s residents plan to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, according to Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic, who still hopes Dubrovnik cruiser trends will manage to rescue some of this year´s tourist season down in southern Dalmatia.


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