Coronavirus left the cruise industry in utter disarray and has by far taken the greatest hit of all businesses in the travel industry. Cruise ships have been temporarily stranded at sea, not allowed to dock because of onboard outbreaks of the virus. And let’s not forget the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) no-sail order worldwide.
One would think that this would completely devastate the future of the cruise industry, and we all thought it might.
Cruise lines that have canceled sailings in the last few months have offered refunds or credits toward future trips. Still, travel agents and experts say the booking rates for cruise trips in 2021 represent more than just passengers rebooking their canceled trips.
Current trends in cruise bookings for 2021
In the last 45 days, CruiseCompete.com, an online cruise marketplace, has seen a 40% increase in bookings for 2021 compared with 2019. Only 11% of bookings were from people whose 2020 trips were canceled says Heidi M. Allison, President of CruiseCompete.
CruiseCritic.com took a poll of more than 4,600 cruise passengers and found that 75% plan to resume taking cruises at the same frequency as before or more after the COVID-19 crisis has subsided.
Swiss banking giant UBS did an analysis of the cruise industry and found that the cruise booking volume for 2021 was up 9% in the last 30 days compared with the same time last year. Voyages to Asia and Alaska are seeing the highest numbers, according to the UBS report, with Caribbean sailings also performing well. The only bookings that are underperforming are ones to the Mediterranean Sea.
Cruise Planners reported to Travel Agent Central that their cruise departures for 2021 are trending 15% higher than those of 2019 with Europe as the top destination and the Caribbean as the close second.
What does this mean for the cruise industry? This too shall pass.
This too shall pass
Some consumers are afraid to travel again, but many believe this crisis will be over soon and can continue with their everyday lives–including their regular cruise. The cruise lines have always had dedicated customers who continue to book cruises year after year. We don’t expect this trend to stop anytime soon.
Centrav, along with the rest of the cruise businesses, is hopeful for the next few years in travel. This temporary crisis is just a reminder of how much we love to travel and how much we really love booking it.