Jim Byers’ Signs of Hope Travel Blog: A Surge in Cruise Interest

November 12, 2020 Admin

The cruise industry is seeing the slow signs of recovery as interest for cruise
trips has increased in recent weeks, for sailings next year. The decision by the Cemters for Disease Control in the U.S. to let its no-sail order expire on October 31 in exchange for a conditional sail order supports the early signs of recovery that Expedia Group’s data is showing.

While cruise has been one of the hardest hit industries of the pandemic, encouraging search data suggests that there is clear pent-up demand from North American travelers eager to hit the waters as soon as possible. Global searches between April and September this year for cruises in 2021 have been gradually increasing month-on-month, with a noticeable month-on-month spike between August and September of +30%.

In September, the most popular destinations for Canadian travellers searching for 2021 cruises were the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii and Alaska.

During a recent promotion run by Expedia Cruises and Princess Cruises, almost 9,000 passengers booked in just three days during the annual ‘3 Day Sale’ which ran from 24-26 September, for cruises in 2021 and 2022, further indicating strong traveler intent. Of those, a third were for trips to the Caribbean. These numbers were supported by Expedia Group data that showed the most popular month for U.S. travellers searching on its sites in September was for sailings in January 2021, a clear sign that travellers are keen to travel as early as possible next year.

Cruise lines are working hard to make considerable safety upgrades and onboard protocol changes to adapt to the current environment which may be contributing to the surge in consumer confidence. The key focus areas include boarding screenings, onboard testing, daily temperature checks for all guests, dedicated onboard quarantine areas, enhanced HEPA air filtration systems and dining reorganization.

Cruise guests help boost local destinations and economies

The increased interest for cruise may also be having a positive impact on the wider industry, as guests search for lodging options as part of their trip. In the second quarter of this year (April – June) Canadian travellers were searching for lodging in cruise hotspots such as Mexico, Florida, Hawaii and the Bahamas, for trips in January 2021.

Moving into the third quarter of the year, we saw an increase by Canadian travellers for lodging in Vancouver, with five times more searches for trips in January 2021 than searches in the previous quarter. An uptick of interest in these departure port destinations highlights the importance and value of cruise customers in boosting the local travel industry and economy.

While a number of destinations are still being impacted by government restrictions and closed borders, and many cruise lines plan to maintain the ongoing voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. until the end of the year, the data from Expedia Group suggests demand will return once these are lifted.

“2020 has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years in history for the cruise industry, but these early signs of recovery are extremely encouraging. While we know there are still a number of obstacles facing the industry, we’re optimistic that demand is there, and the CDC’s recent announcement is an incredibly positive step forward,” said Matthew Eichhorst, Vice President, Global Cruise at Expedia Group.

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