Over the last months, we have heard multiple cruise line executives mention the incredible popularity the companies are experiencing on bookings. It looks like those numbers are confirmed by a new survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report, so much so that the popularity of cruising is now surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
It’s not just veteran cruisers that have shown their interest in going back to sea as soon as possible. According to the survey, many people who have never cruised before expressed interest in taking their first-ever cruise.
In recent months the cruise industry has taken a leading role in offering guests the safest possible vacation, a strategy that shows to be paying off now.
A website survey that ran over the last year and a half collected information from respondents over four different periods, January 2020, August 2020, June 2021, and August 2021.
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A large part of the respondents had never cruised before, so this didn’t just allow the research to cover how interest in the industry evolved over the past 22 months but also makes comparisons between those who cruised before and those who never sailed possible.
One significant fact: over 25% of those surveyed have already booked a cruise, a number higher than pre-pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had an outsized effect on the travel industry, especially the cruise sector, and the public’s appetite for travel,” said Erin Evans, managing editor of Travel at U.S. News & World Report.“However, interest in cruising has barely wavered over the past year and a half, and veteran cruisers are itching to get back out on the water while many travelers are interested in taking their first cruise ever.”
The report also offers glimpses into the effect of the pandemic on the cruising industry, how people plan to book their trip, and what amenities, entertainment, and destinations are essential for those looking to take a cruise.
Although the popularity of cruises has been well documented over the last months, it boils down to two fundamental reasons. The importance that travelers place on health and safety measures and the accordion effect the pandemic has had on cruises.
The millions of people who had planned to take a cruise over the last 20 months are, for a large part, booking and rebooking their cruises right now, but that’s not all.
Among the respondents who had cruised before, and indicated in the survey they would likely cruise again, already 20 % are booked on their next cruise or have already taken that cruise. A number significantly higher than pre-pandemic.
People who have never cruised before are also booked on cruises in much higher numbers than before March 2020; in this same group, 61% have indicated an interest in going to sea for the first time.
But, these people do care about their safety on board and in the destinations they visit. More than 80% of those who had been onboard a cruise ship before say the vaccination mandate onboard cruise ships is important to them. Only 9% say they are against onboard vaccine policies.
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It’s not all sunshine for the cruise lines. The number of people who would never cruise again did increase slightly from 2% in January 2020 to 4% in August 2021. Nonetheless, with the cruise industry receiving a vast amount of negative press early on in the pandemic, it seems the ships have managed to swing this around.
The cruise industry is now the industry that everyone looks at when they want to see how travel is done safely, and that is enough reason in itself to explain the popularity of cruising.