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Past guests behind cruise industry recovery

In the second of our Future of Cruise surveys, we asked readers to provide a snapshot during this difficult time for the industry. 

The cruise industry is continuing to slowly recover thanks to the support of past guests, new research by Cruise Adviser reveals.

In the second of our Future of Cruise surveys, we asked readers to provide a snapshot of bookings and trends during this difficult time for the industry.

For the month of June, 38 per cent of readers reported an increase in bookings, while 44 per cent reported no change from May. However, 18 per cent reported a decrease.

A quarter of readers made between three and six bookings (26 per cent), while 15 per cent made more than seven. However, 48 per cent made no cruise booking at all – revealing the challenges still facing agents in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey is concerned with bookings in June – before the Foreign & Commonwealth Office changed its advice to warn against cruise travel or later gave the green light to river cruise.

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Only 10 per cent of bookings reported by agents were for autumn 2020, with a further 15 per cent for winter 2020/21 – demonstrating that the overwhelming majority of cruises are being booked nine months in advance.

Twenty per cent have been booked for spring 2021; 40 per cent for summer 2021 and further 15 per cent for later than that.

Agents said that the majority of new bookings were made by past customers (77 per cent), confirming the theory that returning guests will be crucial in the future health of the cruise industry.

For the second month in a row, agents requested quicker processing of refunds by cruise lines, as well as more clarity and transparency from operators over credit notes and refunds.

Agents urged cruise lines to reveal more details about safety protocols likely to be in place when cruises resume.

Most illuminating is what agents reveal about customer concerns. They expressed worry about hygiene measures on board ships and how social distancing would work in theory, getting insurance and whether or not ships would be able to dock in the event of an outbreak.

Agents reported a greater interest in river cruise, more balcony cabins being booked – with one agent noting these have been booked “mainly with enhanced credits” – while others said that British Isles cruises and ex-UK cruises to Scandinavia were popular.

Some, however, said they believed customers were waiting for a vaccine before booking.

Almost 70 per cent of respondents said that they agree or strongly agree with the statement that the “government has not done enough to protect the travel industry”.

Last month, in the first of our Future of Cruise surveys, we reported that 40 per cent of agents saw an increase in bookings in May – with 11 per cent of readers recording a fall in the number of bookings made, compared with April.

The findings of the next Future of Cruise survey will be revealed in July.

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