Cruise: Luxury cruises see boost in popularity as holidaymakers anticipate the future

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A Channel 4 documentary titled ‘Luxury Cruises: From Boom to Bust?’ is set to air this evening looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world of luxury cruises. Though there has undoubtedly been devastation for the cruise industry, with the majority of ships unable to sail since March, new data shows there may be hope ahead.

According to Cruise Critic, 32 percent of those surveyed in the U.K. are already looking to book a future cruise, with 83 percent of those surveyed in the U.K. say they will book a future cruise.

Many are also looking to book onto a smaller ship – which is often the case for luxury cruises.

Around 20 percent of global respondents consider ship size to be a top booking consideration – they say they will look to book their next cruise on a smaller ship.

This is a notion which was backed up by the owner of Northampton-based luxury travel agency Dragonfly Traveller, Rob Gower.

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He told Express.co.uk: “I think small cruises with fewer people like river cruising things like that I think that will move quicker. There is less risk.”

Luxury Cruise line Scenic reports already having seen a “significant spike” in cruise bookings int he last two months alone.

This could be, in part, thanks to the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.

Sarah Lancashire, brand and marketing manager, Scenic UK said: “A significant spike in new bookings over the past two months leads us to be cautiously optimistic that 2021 will be the year the cruising industry will start to bounce back – with small ship cruising likely to be one of the first areas to return.

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“We’re confident that small ship cruising will continue to grow in popularity as we’ve seen a rise in interest for our luxury river and ocean itineraries in recent months.

“Smaller capacity ships are favourable as guests look to cruise with less crowds onboard, more space to relax and enjoy the boutique ship experience and the chance to explore destinations on more intimate shore excursions with fewer guests.

Our guests are booking well in advance, with the majority of our new bookings being for departures in 2022 and beyond.

“However thanks to Scenic’s flexible booking policy, confidence in luxury cruising is returning for as early as next year – with bookings coming in for late 2021 in the most recent weeks.”

David Winterton, director of global brand and marketing at river cruise brand Emerald Cruises added: “For 2021, many cruise loving guests are looking to down-size to smaller capacity ships such as river cruising and coastal yachting. This is likely due to less crowds on board, and the chance to discover destinations in more depth with exclusive excursions.”

After a year void of travel for many, luxury cruises are also being pointed to as a great way to tick something off the “bucket list”.

“In the ultra-luxury cruising market, we’re seeing a rise in special occasion and ‘bucket-list’ travel as guests look to plan the ultimate cruise to give them something to look forward to,” explained Ms Lancashire.

“We predict 2021 to be the year where people embark on the trip-of-a-lifetime, with our recent bookings showing that demand is building for special occasion travel for both celebrations missed this year and those coming up next year.

“The recent spike in bookings is encouraging that the luxury cruising industry will start to bounce back as early as next year.

“We can’t wait to welcome guests onboard again and the recent bookings show that our guests are just as eager to get sailing again too.”

However, luxury cruises do come with an added price tag.

Often, though, this covers all-inclusive meals and even drinks, as well as excursions and entertainment.

Cruise Critics data found the average cost of a booked cruise has risen 120 percentage, compared to this same time period in 2019.

The cruise critic experts say this is “due in large part to more bookings on luxury and river cruises – higher base fares, smaller ships.”

Despite hopes for the future though, the experts point out things may take some time to return to what they were.

“I think cruise will take longer to recover,” said Mr Gower.

“We have done a few cruise bookings but they are for 2022.”

Luxury Cruises: From Boom to Bust? is on Channel 4 this evening at 7:00pm.

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