As the world looks toward the post pandemic world, one thing that’s staring at many people is the change in traveling. When CDC’s no-sail order expires, how will cruisers return to the water is the question in everyone’s mind. Will it be mega ships or small cruises that will find favour.
An article published in Travel Pulse sought to understand the emerging new normal of the cruise industry. Let’s take a look at it.
The Large Ship Advantage
“From a social distancing standpoint, both small ship and large ship cruising are going to be making major changes to dining and entertainment to accommodate,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative.
“Large ships do have an advantage because there is just so much more space dedicated to dining and common areas, which inherently spreads people out amongst the ship already. With heavily-reduced capacities onboard, it will be easier to accommodate on a large ship.”
Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., said “the larger ships are definitely going to provide for more space and options for social distancing. This will alleviate any friction a consumer has about being in a closed-in space onboard. That said, river cruising and smaller ships will also provide customers with comfort with regards to the total number of people on the ship.”
What’s in the booking trends?
To determine what consumers are booking, we turned to the people actually making the reservations for them – professional travel advisors. And make no mistake – people are booking cruises now for next year and further into the future.
Dan Bateman, an independent vacation specialist with Cruises Inc. in Peoria, Ariz., said he is booking cruises for 2021 and 2022.
“In many cases, we are booking similar cruises for future years comparable to ones that have been canceled for clients,” he said.
“Many times, the ship has changed but not the itinerary that they are looking for. Choice of ship is secondary. Itinerary is primary.”
No Change in Cruiser’s Desire?
Chris Caulfield, a CruiseOne franchise owner in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., said the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t appear to have changed cruisers’ desires.
“People who are booking now are picking ships that fit the vacation they want to take, much like before the pandemic,” he said.
“My last couple of bookings are new to cruise, which is encouraging.”
Cruisers Not Put Off by Health Protocols
Al Richman, a Dream Vacations franchise owner in Lantana, Fla., said he’s receiving calls about the Caribbean from clients who received future credits from cruises canceled by the pandemic.
It appears many cruisers accept the fact that they’ll have to wear masks on the ship and aren’t put off by health protocols.
“Most mention it, but at this point, most are anxious to cruise again,” Bateman said.
“Often, they ask about wearing mask requirements, what happens if their cruise cancels again or if the testing requirements are not met at embarkation. I find that the health protocols are not stopping clients from wanting to cruise again.”
People Want To Get Back To Cruising
Caulfield also doesn’t think the health protocols will deter eager cruise vacationers.
“I do get inquiries about what things may look like onboard, but I do not see it really affecting people who want to book now. People are planning for next year,” he said. “I believe that people want to get back to cruising. Cruise lines have always taken care of passengers, and in this new era there is no doubt the cruise lines will do what is necessary to keep passengers safe and healthy.”
Shore & Tourism Restrictions The Only Issue
One caveat: Richman said restrictions on shore excursions and touring might be an issue for some of his clients. In Europe, the ships that have resumed cruising require passengers to exclusively take approved excursions, and not travel independently, to preserve a safe bubble.
“I have been talking about potential protocols and what people should expect when cruising resumes,” he said.
“Most of my clients seem to be OK with face masks, but the restrictions on shore excursions may be an issue.”
Source: Travel Pulse