“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you,” according to an old saying. The coronavirus may have cast a long shadow, and the crisis may be far from over. But for those who look at the brighter side, there is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic even for the hard-hit shipping sector.
COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of mega cruise ships to outbreaks of infectious diseases. More people are now seeing the ugly underside (deadly germs are just part of it) of the glamorous world of cruising.
The pandemic has highlighted the need to amend the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). There should be new regulations for how passenger vessels with infected persons should be handled. During the present crisis, some cruise ships with confirmed COVID-19 cases were prevented from docking in certain ports.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that global supply chains can be broken in the wink of an eye. This could lead to a re-think of globalisation, which has had many failings even before COVID-19, and to a serious effort by all countries to strike a balance between free trade and national interests.
Maritime charities have slowed down on the ‘Depression at Sea’ campaign and the inane calls for mandatory wellness training for seafarers. They were making it seem like depression was some kind of epidemic sweeping across the shipping world. Now they have a real plague to use as a platform for their good deeds.
COVID-19 has provided a welcome break from maritime conferences. There are just too many of these talkathons, which make a lot of money for the organisers whilst giving participants a perfect excuse to go on a junket.
The pandemic has stoked the spirit of altruism amongst maritime companies that otherwise care only about profits and give little thought to the rights and well-being of of seafarers.. Their donations clearly boost their corporate image, but what does it matter? This is cleansing of income, and many people need help in these dark times.