One of the world’s most senior cruise executives has voiced fears of a second wave of Covid-19 just as the sector is fully re-starting operations this winter.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said: “We think it will take at least six months from the restart to get the industry back to full operation again. A lot depends on how governments operate around the world, a lot also depends on whether there’s a second wave [of the virus] this coming winter or not.

“One of the concerns that I have is that I see two events converging on one another. In the autumn, when we believe that the authorities around the world will be comfortable enough and we’ll have all the new protocols in place that they’re looking for, it will coincide with the second wave, if it comes.

“When this wave started, and when the flu season begins, is in the October-November time period. So I’m very concerned about the conflict of those two curves coming together in a bad time.”

Del Rio said the industry needed to build “a step-by-step momentum”.

“You start with our travel agency partners who have the trust of the local community,” he said.

“We have to be able to convince them that it’s safe for their customers to come on board. And so I’m sure we’ll have fam trips more than ever before. We will have empty cabins so they can come on board before we never had empty cabins. So we will start there.

“We’ll start with our loyal past guests. And over time, over the first few months when all the news will be focused on what’s going on on board cruise ships, if we can demonstrate that we can operate safely, that people can still have fun on board cruise ships, we will build momentum.”

He added: “We went from 100 miles-per-hour to a dead stop. And now we have to slowly begin to come back to where we once were. It’s going to take time but I’m confident that the entire ecosystem – the suppliers, the travel agent partners and our loyal guests will get the ball rolling.”