The multidisciplinary Healthy Travel project, initiated by Business Finland in autumn 2020, has brought together researchers with cruise companies, shipyards, and subcontractors to improve health and safety on cruise ships and in terminal buildings.
“Our initial focus was on how to ensure a safe cruise experience in the middle of the pandemic. We then explored ways to attract more passengers to the ships,” says project manager Jonas Spohr, a lecturer from the Laboratory of Industrial Management, Åbo Akademi University.
Processes to minimise risks
During the project, researchers in Cell Biology and Industrial Management at Åbo Akademi created models to analyse passenger flows on vessels of different sizes and developed processes and procedures to minimise infection risks. Finnish diagnostics companies have developed different types of testing systems to cost-effectively prevent infected passengers from boarding the ships.
“We also produced a questionnaire to understand customers’ experiences and opinions regarding the safety measures implemented by the cruise lines in response to the pandemic, as well as their views on a range of other possible measures, including the use of technology to monitor passenger movements on a ship,” says Spohr.
Future trends of the shipping industry
The Healthy Travel project has also provided an opportunity to consider the long-term future of the whole cruise industry, including the diverse range of large and small businesses that serve the industry.
Healthy Travel project provided an opportunity to consider the long-term future of the whole cruise industry
To support the company’s strategic decision-making processes, the project has collected data on cruise industry developments and shared its findings from the customer questionnaires.
“Most people involved in the project share that view that the sector is likely to change, even without the impact of the coronavirus. The pandemic will pass at some point, and the ships will be much safer than before, so we also need to understand the bigger trends shaping the future of the industry,” Spohr explains.
Providing sustainable solutions
Companies in the industry, especially sub-contractors have a window of opportunity to help the cruise liners to adapt to the future. Creating new technical, digital, and sustainable solutions or ideas to improve passengers' cruise experience will likely generate more business.
“The big questions are concerned with: who are the customers of the future, and what will they value in the cruise experience? What is the impact of global trends like sustainability on the cruise industry, and how can all companies, including the subcontractors, be part of supporting these changes?”