It’s taken as almost a given that the cruise industry is going to suffer for the long term. After seeing shifts sailing endlessly, not welcomed in any port, and becoming floating petri dishes for the spread of disease, who is going to get back on a ship?
As if the two words Diamond Princess weren’t enough to sink the industry’s ship, airline crew even refused to operate flights with cruise passengers on board last month after those passengers were cleared by CDC. And need I mention that a cruise ship was even attacked a couple of weeks ago by Venezuela’s Navy?
I still think the cruise industry has a high hurdle to clear, especially because their core customers (skewing much older) are also the most vulnerable for health issues, and because even international air travel may be limited for awhile. Yet here’s a claim that cruise bookings for 2021 are actually up compared to 2019. Say what?
Despite multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships in 2020, bookings for cruises are already on the rise of 2021, according to multiple reports.
In the past 45 days — as multiple cruise ships had serious COVID-19 outbreaks onboard — the cruise booking site CruiseCompete.com saw a 40% increase in its bookings for 2021 over its 2019 bookings.
A recent report from UBS also found that 76% of the people who had a canceled cruise in 2020 have chosen to accept credit towards a future cruise in 2021 as opposed to 24% who accepted a refund.
Bookings may be up because people cancelling trips ‘booked’ future trips with their credits, unable to obtain refunds. Survey results about ‘choosing’ a refund may not reflect the difficulties in actually obtaining one. Moreover, while there’s a poll out suggesting a majority of cruise customers will cruise again (at the same frequency) that could also just be bluster.
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.