More people are booking cruises for 2021 compared to 2019 despite coronavirus

More people are booking cruises for 2021 compared to 2019 despite coronavirus

Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the cruise industry, including multiple cases in which ships were forbidden to dock due to outbreaks onboard, booking is up for 2021 compared to 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Bookings for 2021 are up 40 percent compared to 2019 on online cruise market CruiseCompete.com in the last 45 days, company head Heidi Allison told the newspaper, with only 11 percent of the bookings coming from customers whose 2020 cruises were canceled.

“People are still booking cruises and are anxious to sail again when this is all over,” Allison said.

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Swiss bank USB, meanwhile, found cruise booking volume for next year increased 9 percent in the last month compared to this time last year, with many of the bookings involving customers’ credits for 2020 cancellations but with the volume “still show[ing] a surprising resilience in desire to book a cruise.”

USB also found that of people whose cruises were canceled, 76 percent are opting for credit on a future trip rather than a refund. Cruise lines have taken extra steps to incentivize the choice, offering up to 125 percent of the fare of the canceled trip, according to the Times.

“We are optimistic that once this crisis is behind us, travel will rebound quickly, which bodes well for 2021,” Paula Twidale, a senior vice president at AAA travel, told the newspaper, adding that AAA has also logged an increase in bookings beyond those attributable to cancellations.

Meanwhile, a CruiseCritic.com poll of more than 4,600 cruise passengers indicated about 75 percent of respondents plan to take cruises as often or more often as they did before the pandemic once it subsides, with the other 25 percent saying they would take them less often or stop altogether.

“We’re not dealing with post 9/11 where people were afraid for their safety when traveling beyond U.S. borders,” Stewart Chiron, who runs the website CruiseGuy, told the Times. “Many people are ready to sail once a clear timeline for resumption of service and current ship schedules are revealed.”