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The cruise industry has taken a major beating due to COVID-19, but analysts say bookings for 2021 cruises have increased since this time last year. Buzz60

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The world is acutely aware of the risks of boarding a cruise ship after CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program, told USA TODAY last month.

Norwegian reveals reopening plan:AMK Architecture & Design, a Greek firm that specializes in hotel and cruise ship interiors and has worked on more than 120 marine-based projects for lines such as Celebrity and Costa, is already working on future strategies.

"The core of the hospitality business –  no matter where it is, is essentially the same, and that is to provide guests with the ultimate experience during their stay," Anna Koustsoukosta, AMK's principal architect and managing partner, told USA TODAY. "The cruise industry, however, which is a floating hotel, is a much more difficult and complex application."

Now another degree of difficulty has been added to the challenge of designing a cruise ship: How do you stop the spread of COVID-19 or other highly contagious viruses in the future? And how do you continue to offer passengers the convenience of a large cruise ship while prioritizing safety? 

"Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this period, we need to reinvent how the passenger moves in the ship and interacts with the ship," said Koustsoukosta. 

Why are cruise ships so high-risk?

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A study analyzed the coronavirus outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Video Elephant

Cruise ships squeeze hundreds or thousands of guests into a relatively small space, and megaships play a prominent role in the industry. Royal Caribbean's 1,188-foot Symphony of the Seas, for instance, can accommodate nearly 9,000 passengers and crew. 

"Like other close-contact environments, ships may facilitate the transmission of respiratory viruses from person to person through exposure to respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces," Treffiletti said.