Even so, the big three will survive the coming cash crunch. They all have relatively strong balance-sheets. Analysts think that, even with no revenue, they have enough cash to survive without issuing any new debt or shares for at least six months. On March 31st it emerged that Carnival plans to raise $6bn from issuing new shares and bonds in case it needs to withstand a much longer shut down. In contrast, American Airlines could run out of cash in just three to six months, reckons George Ferguson of Bloomberg Intelligence, another research firm.
A more fundamental worry is that the numbers holidaying at sea may simply never bounce back when the industry weighs anchor again. Airlines and hotels will always be needed by business travelers; holidaymakers have options other than cruising. Worse, cruising seems not to appeal to the young. Surveys suggest millennials want more adventurous holidays and are more concerned about sustainability, overtourism and workers’ rights. These are all areas in which cruise lines have been very publicly criticized in recent years. The immediate problem, however, will be how to lure old folk back on board, now that the spread of the disease is indelibly linked in the public mind to cruise ships. For next year’s holidays, expect many silver cruisers to rediscover their land legs.