As the container shipping and ocean cruising industries face unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, the pandemic has heightened the need for technology providing visibility, real-time information, digitization and remote connectivity at sea.
The current global pandemic is dramatically impacting the maritime market including maritime shipping and ocean cruising. The cruise industry is currently on pause with 100% of the ocean fleet out of service with plans to slowly resume operations in the coming months, while 9% of container shipping fleets are inactive. Across these two industries thousands of maritime professionals are on furlough. Due to the slowdown, many carriers and industry suppliers are facing real liquidity issues. The conditions are tough for sure. From an outsider perspective it may be difficult to recognize what happens at sea matters in our daily lives. Both shipping and cruising are vital to sustain us and to finding respite respectively. As the pandemic progresses and eventually passes, there is growing evidence and discussion that wireless technology solutions will enable the maritime market to become more efficient, profitable and safer operators at sea.
Transportation at Sea is a Global Concern
Simply stated, a significant portion of what any given country produces, including industrial and household goods, raw materials, food and medicines, is dependent on the sea for transportation. Overall, total export products are estimated at $19.347 trillion USD as of 2018. Global trade exports worldwide on average represents 45% of worldwide Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with 90% of goods produced transported on a ship, barge or boat. The global maritime shipping industry is vital to sustain us daily.
Top Global Export Countries (2018 Export Sales $Millions USD)
Cruising is also important as a unique vacation experience enabling people to see the world by sea. Cruise lines carried 30 million passengers around the world last year equivalent to the total number of annual visitors to either Japan, Austria or Greece (30 million annual visitors each year). This global industry contributes $150 billion USD ($50 billion USD in wages and salaries) to the world economy annually on close to 300 ocean ships. Cruisers are also loyal, with 82% likely to book a cruise again as their next vacation.
Global Ocean Cruise Passengers (In Millions)
Combined, the container shipping and cruise industry supports over 5 million jobs worldwide. What happens at sea matters and how the maritime industry responds to the COVD-19 crisis now, in the coming months and years ahead will have global ramifications.
The Digital Recovery from COVID-19
For both the maritime shipping and cruise industries their continued success will depend on how they manage their fleet capacity going forward. Currently container shipping capacity is down 9% while the ocean cruise capacity is completely out of service for now.
Inactive Container and Cruise Fleet Capacity as of April 2020
From a cruise perspective, managing capacity is equally critical for success moving forward. Unlike maritime container shipping, 100% of the worldwide cruise fleet is not carrying passengers nor generating revenue. Cruise lines, vendors, port operators and destination location business that rely on cruising for their livelihood have faith in the resiliency of the industry and are working together through the crisis. For example, WMS is providing Wi-Fi services at no cost, out of goodwill, for affected passengers and crew members on cruise ships. Some crew members that are having a difficult time getting repatriated to their home country are calling these ships home for now and staying connected is equally important at sea as on land during this pandemic.
Our support of the maritime market is steadfast as we continue to maintain our network assets on land and sea. It’s clear that connectivity solutions like cellular, Wi-Fi and Internet of Things (IoT) will help companies in the maritime industry perform operations more safely and efficiently as cost-control will be important for both container and cruise lines. We also believe remote connectivity will enable workers on container ships and passengers on cruise ships to perform tasks digitally to minimize physical contact and maintain social distancing. As a leader in maritime communications for over 15 years, we are here to help.