Cruise Ship Travel Rebounding as Travellers Book Trips

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Chasing the Viking Octantis onboard the Superior Rocket

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Viking Cruises on the Great Lakes is proving that people are back to cruising. Trips from Thunder Bay to Milwalkee Wisconsin are sold out for the most part.

After the long COVID-19 break it appears cruising is back.

Cruiseline.com and Shipmate released the findings of their 2022 Member Survey. These results come just on the heels of the first anniversary of the return of cruising from the United States. Questions in this survey centre on participants’ cruise history, intent to cruise within the next year, and preferred travel booking preferences.

This survey presented a unique data set as we look ahead at cruising next year, with most major lines having all the vessels in their fleet back at sea. In addition, it provides insight into consumer confidence in cruising at this pivotal time for the industry and traveler purchase and planning habits.

The majority of participants who took this survey were frequent cruisers, with 69% percent reporting they have previously been on at least seven or more sailings, 17% with four to six cruises, 8% have taken two to three cruises, and 3.5% had taken at least one cruise. Over 60% of all participants have reported previously cruising with Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, over 40% have sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line, and over 30% with Princess Cruises. 89% of participants have cruised in the Caribbean region, with other previously-cruised destinations being Alaska, Pacific Coast (Mexico), and Europe.

Of the travellers participating in this survey, 91.4% reported they plan to take a cruise within the next year, 2.5% said they would not cruise in the next year, and 6.1% are currently undecided if they will cruise in the next year.

“The numbers from our survey clearly show that travellers are feeling comfortable in cruising once again and are taking the next steps of researching and booking upcoming voyages,” said Jamie Cash, General Manager of Cruiseline.com. “Despite many obstacles, the cruise industry has come a long way in the last year, and this data provided by our community shows that the consumer demand for cruising is strong.”

Cruise Intent – Those Who Plan to Cruise Within the Next Year
Of the 91.4% who marked they intend to cruise within the next year, respondents shared more data on upcoming travel plans:

When Are Travellers Cruising?
Over 34% of participants will cruise within the next two to four months, 30% will cruise in the next five to twelve months, and under 30% have cruises booked within the next 60 days. 46% of these travelers have between two and four upcoming sailings booked.
Which Cruise Lines? 37.9% will sail with Carnival Cruise Line, 35.9% with Royal Caribbean International, 21.45% with Norwegian Cruise Line, 17.5% with Celebrity Cruises, and 17% with Princess Cruises. Coming in just behind these lines in booking/intent was Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Virgin Voyages.
What Duration of Cruise Booked? 13.4% indicated they are booking four to six day cruises and 42.5% of travelers will cruise on a 7-night voyage. 31.5% will sail between 8 and 14 days, and 10% report they will cruise for 15+ days. Short cruises of 3 days or less only accounted for 2.6% of future cruises booked.
Where Will You Cruise To? 54.6% plan to cruise in the Caribbean, 36.1% in Europe, 31% in Alaska, and 21.7% will cruise in Hawaii, other intended cruise destinations include Canada/New England, Mexico (Pacific Coast), Bermuda, and Australia/New Zealand.
How Many Future Cruises Do These Travelers Have Booked? 46% of this group have two to four cruises booked, 28.5% have one cruise booked, 13% have zero booked, 8.6% have 5-7 booked, 3.6% have eight or more booked, and the remaining .3% responded with varying numbers booked.

Cruise Sideliners – Those Waiting to Cruise

This survey also studied the 6.1% of those who reported they were undecided about cruising and the 2.5% who said they would not cruise in the upcoming year. This group was labeled the ‘Cruise Sideliners.’

Over 38% said the vaccine requirements stopped them from cruising this year. Additionally, 18.2% of travelers reported they were ‘Not Ready to Cruise Yet (but May in the Future).’ Over 16% reported that finances were limiting them from cruising at this time, 10% of travellers said that they do not feel safe cruising, and 9.5% reported time as a limiting factor for not cruising. The remaining percentage listed other health and safety protocol, finance-related, and previously booked year-plus voyages as reasons they did not intend to cruise this year.

A large majority of this group said that as an alternative to cruising, they plan on: vacationing at a hotel/resort (55.5%), flying/driving to see friends/family (50.4%), having a staycation (36%), or traveling via RV/camper (18.2%).

River Cruising Findings

The growing segment of river cruising was also surveyed. 90.7% of participants reported they had never taken a river cruise; however, 61.2% said they would consider river cruising in the future. The most considered river cruise lines include Viking River Cruises (78.9%), with other line interests for AmaWaterways, Avalon, and Emerald Waterways.

Booking Preferences

Respondents were asked about cruise booking preferences to learn about travel purchasing trends. 43.8% reported they book cruises six to twelve months ahead of sailing, 29.1% book 12-18 months out, 16.5% book 3-5 months out, 7.4% book 18+ months in advance, and only 3.2% report they book less than three months out from cruising.

The bulk of responders book using a travel agent or direct with the cruise line, with 32.3% booking with a travel agency in person or via phone, and another 9.4% book via a travel agency website. For those that prefer direct with the cruise line, 26.5% prefer phone or PVP, while another 28.6% prefer online.

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