In some good news for the cruise industry, industry experts say bookings for cruise sailings in 2021 are up considerably compared with pre-coronavirus data, despite the ongoing impact that the coronavirus is having on the industry.
In the last 45 days, CruiseCompete.com, an online cruise marketplace, has seen a 40% increase in bookings for 2021 compared with 2019, the LA Times reported. Only 11% of the bookings are from people whose 2020 trips were canceled.
Heidi M. Allison, president of the company, told the outlet “People are still booking cruises and are anxious to sail again when this is all over,”
LA Times also cited a report from Swiss banking giant UBS that found cruise booking volume for 2021 was up 9% in the last 30 days compared with the same time last year.
“That includes people applying their future cruise credits from sailings that were canceled this year, but still shows a surprising resilience in desire to book a cruise,” UBS equity analysts wrote in the March 31 report.
Voyages to Asia and Alaska are seeing the highest numbers, according to the report, with Caribbean sailings also performing well. The only bookings that are underperforming are ones to the Mediterranean Sea, the analysts wrote.
UBS also found that of people whose cruises were canceled, 76 percent are opting for credit on a future trip rather than a refund.
Most cruise lines have offered guests with canceled cruises an enticing 125% of their cruise fare in credits, encouraging them to rebook rather than request a refund.
Home-based travel franchise company Cruise Planners, too, found that cruise bookings for next year are holding strong. Michelle Fee, CEO and founder, said during a recent virtual press conference that cruise booking volume for 2021 has gone up 15%, compared to last year.
Of the 2021 bookings, Fee said a large volume are people who had trips in the late summer or early fall and have moved it. A smaller percentage, there are some new bookings as well.
And, “there’s still thousands of future cruise credits out there that haven’t rebooked and those people are in the wait and see game,” Fee said. “People are just waiting for the bans to get lifted and get back to selling travel.”
Vicky Garcia said while cruise ships seemed to dominate the headlines when the virus first emerged, “it’s not a cruise ship illness, it’s a global pandemic,” adding cruise ships and CLIA should come out with new regulations to restore public confidence.