Cruise Bookings Up 200% Doesn’t Mean What Some People Suggest

This is a report out that cruise bookings are up 600% off of an extremely low base, and up 200% year-over-year. The claim is highly dubious if taken to mean that the cruise industry is on a path towards recovery or that people are prepared to cruise in the middle of a global pandemic.

It’s such a shocking data point that it’s getting broad play across media. However when you dig into the details you realize that,

  • It is a very isolated data point, just the report of one agency’s sales not representing the industry as a whole

  • The agency wants to sell cruises

  • The story is sourced to TMZ

  • Refers only to sales of Carnival Cruises only (whose demographic skews younger, people who aren’t at greatest risk from the virus)

  • Doesn’t necessarily represent new money from customers, since the shutdown of cruises means that people have travel credits they need to spend when they weren’t able to get refunds.

At least 35 cruise ships had confirmed cases of COVID-19. While Diamond Princess had the most, at 712, Carnival’s Ruby Princess had 612 and their Grand Princess had 78. 9 other Carnvial ships had cases. A dozen Royal Caribbean ships had cases, with Oasis of the Seas having 157 confirmeds.

The cruise industry as a whole has a high hurdle to clear, especially because their core customers (skewing much older) are also the most vulnerable for health issues.

On April 6 returning cruise passengers were banned from taking commercial flights and there’s a no-sail order in effect through July 24. So sure Carnival could start sailing again August 1, unless the order is extended and it’s already been extended once.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wouldn’t even consider a cruise until a vaccine is available or Covid cases are basically non-existent. The nightmare of being stuck on a ship not allowed to dock anywhere isn’t something I’m going to risk.

  2. They’re offering 125% for people to rebook cancelled cruises or 100% refund, but rebooks are still protected with ability to cancel later… of course bookings are high! Foolish not to take the rebook unless you need the cash. Heck I be there some are booking just to grab the 25% bonus (book during the freedom to cancel window, take the 125% voucher and then travel at your leisure).

  3. Cruises will have incredible hurdles to overcome in the future. I think many older ships will be decommissioned just like aircraft. There may even be cruise lines that will disappear. Princess now has such a bad Covid-19 reputation, why would anyone take a chance? But, sometime in the future there will be incredible deals on cruises.

    So, yeah one data point really isn’t representative of what is truly happening.

  4. I dont believe Carnival could resume sailing on August 1st. No cruise line calls on US water has submitted an actionable plan to CDC that meets CDC requirements when CDC extended the No Sail order a few weeks ago.

    On May 6th Princess issued 2nd pause of operation till November for most of the world.

    Ditto Holland America

    Cunard has not updated its initial pause to Jul 31st yet. Though Alaska cruises basically are a no go for the year of 2020.

    All the 2021/2022 bookings have captive passengers whose compensations / incentives are all in the form of FCC. Cash refunds on the canceled cruises incl the taxes and government fees, shore excursion, air, hotels, are not coming, even for those who opted for refund of cruise fares in the form of FCC.
    Those who opted for 100% cash refund, has not even seen their incentive FCC in their accounts.

    Besides, the future booking deposits NOT be paid by FCC, must be Real Money. But all the deposits are refundable (unless anyone stupid enough to opt for nonrefundable deposit which would get a ever so slightly discount on the whole fare), before making the final payment on the sailing, that typically is 75 days before sails…

    Hence, any number now showing 2021 booking is completely unreliable, almost border to be bogus in a sense.

  5. Seaborne – owned by Carnival Corp – just cancelled most cruises until November. Only offering a 125% credit towards a future cruise but no refund.

    Sound familiar?
    Obviously cash is tight.

  6. Seabourn may think its passengers would file credit card disputes anyway when refunds on the cancelled cruises are not coming. So it does not bother to play game on offering “options”.

  7. @Alex

    Upon checking Seabourn’s policy posted on its website, it does refund but you have to request it.

    See the last sentence of last paragraph –

    Guests Automatically Receive Future Cruise Credit
    Guests with impacted cruises will automatically be cancelled, and all guests will receive a Future Cruise Credit as follows:

    Paid in Full: those guests paid in full will receive 125% Future Cruise Credit of the base cruise fare paid to Seabourn.
    Under Deposit: those guests with bookings under deposit will receive a Future Cruise Credit valued at 125% of the deposit amount paid, plus an onboard credit of $300 per suite.

    The Future Cruise Credit is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and may be used to book sailings departing through Dec. 31, 2022. The amount of non-cruise fare purchases may be transferred to a new booking to be used in any manner selected by the guest. Alternatively, guests may request a refund of the monies paid to Seabourn, which will be reimbursed to the original form of payment.

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