Forty per cent of agents saw an increase in bookings in May, new research from Cruise Adviser today reveals.
In the first of our Future of Cruise surveys, just 11 per cent of readers recorded a fall in the number of bookings made, compared with April.
A majority of respondents sold a cruise in May (55 per cent), with 26 per cent selling between one and two cruises, and 19 per cent selling between three and six.
Of those who did sell cruises, 72 per cent said that they were booked for spring 2021 or later – with only 10 per cent of cruises booked for autumn 2020.
For these new bookings, summer 2021 (34 per cent) was the most popular choice among customers, according to agents.
Agents said that the majority of new bookings were made by past customers (70 per cent), confirming the theory that returning guests will be crucial in the future health of the cruise industry.
The majority of those who have rescheduled cruises moved them to summer 2021 (54 per cent), with 12 per cent moving them to winter 2020/21 and 15 per cent to spring 2021. According to respondents, the remaining 19 per cent rescheduled them for later than summer 2021.
Agents said it was difficult to identify trends during the current period with demand for cruise way down, but some noted that river, round-Britain and ex-UK mini-cruises were selling, while some noted that customers were already looking to 2022.
While the green shoots of recovery are there to be seen, the survey presents evidence of an industry facing unprecedented challenges, with 45 per cent of respondents having sold no cruises in May.
When asked what more cruise lines can do, agents requested quicker processing of refunds, as well as more clarity and transparency from operators over credit notes and refunds.
Sixty 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”. It comes as major airlines launch a legal challenge to the 14-day quarantine policy.
Agents relayed concerns from customers who expressed worry about hygiene measures on board ships and how social distancing would work in theory.
According to agents, customers are also concerned about ships being allowed to dock should there be an outbreak of Covid-19 on board.
Cruise Adviser has written extensively about the problems faced by cruise ships during March and April as the world shut its borders and refused access to ports regardless of whether cases of had been recorded.
Although Braemar, the Fred Olsen ship, was allowed to dock in Cuba while it had guests carrying coronavirus, a number of Caribbean countries turned away ships, with the likes of Holland America’s Zaandam forced to return to the US.
Cruise Adviser will publish results of its next Future of Cruise survey in July.