Cruise bookings grow despite uptick in Covid cases

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T0726FREEDOMEDGE2_HF_HR [Credit: Hector Fadraga]
The Celebrity Edge and Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas docked in Nassau on July 18. Photo Credit: Hector Fadraga

Travel advisors and cruise lines say that so far, the uptick in Covid cases and the rise of the delta variant is not having an impact on cruise bookings. 

Ken Muskat, COO of MSC Cruises USA, said that "demand continues to be strong." 

"Even though the news about the delta variant increasing is out there, it's been very clear that it's impacting people who are not vaccinated," he said. "Most of our bookings are for vaccinated guests. People who are vaccinated and are used to cruising have that pent-up demand and want to come. We are not seeing any hesitancy."

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Cruise Planners COO Vicky Garcia said her company "has not seen a drop in bookings due to the current news."

As of this week, she said, bookings were up 27% week over week in purchases and that pricing increases have become "clearly evident" in many itineraries. 

Both the fourth quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022 were popular for new cruise purchases, said Garcia, who called the trend "promising in that it shows that a good number of clients are feeling comfortable booking close in." More than 30% of new Cruise Planners purchases last week had a 2021 departure date, she said, which has been fairly consistent for several weeks now. 

Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com, said that the rise in cases "is a concern for us but we continue to see improvement in the business." 

Annie Scrivanich, Cruise Specialists
Annie Scrivanich, Cruise Specialists

And Annie Scrivanich, senior vice president of Cruise Specialists, said that clients are very aware of what's going on, but it hasn't impacted bookings.

"People pay close attention to those things," she said. "Absolutely."

But it's now slowing down sales, she said, especially given that much of the agency's market is in longer cruises that book much further out. And importantly, most cruise lines are still offering very flexible cancellation policies. 

"They can book now and then they still have plenty of time to cancel," she said. "They protect themselves with making a reservation, and then as the situation evolves, they can adjust based on their personal kind of comfort level .... They want to travel, they want to go, but they want to be safe."

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