As dire as things may be for travel advisors who focus on cruise, one silver lining appears to be in 2021 booking trends.
Cruise Planners CEO Michelle Fee said last week that the company is "experiencing a strong 2021." And while many of those bookings are future cruise credit, or FCC, redemptions for sailings that were canceled this year, some are from clients who are pushing summer and fall bookings ahead. And some are brand new bookings, Fee said.
"A large volume are not necessarily FCCs," she said.
Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com, has seen similar trends and said they are a continuation of strength the agency has seen in 2021 bookings since the beginning of this year.
"We continue to see very strong trends for 2021," he said. "Recently we received an additional boost from the FCC program. Most of the clients booking on the FCC program are opting for 2021."
The fact that people are using FCCs and pushing ahead summer and fall cruises is also a good indication of continued demand.
Wall Street has taken note.
Citing data from what she calls one of the largest cruise sellers, UBS analyst Robin Farley said in a note last week that "booking volume in the last 30 days for 2021 is actually up 9% versus the same time last year."
And while that includes the application of FCCs (Farley said the cruise seller she spoke with reported that 76% of those who canceled their cruises this year are taking the option for an FCC), she said it "shows surprising resilience in desire to book a cruise."
This comes as no surprise to travel sellers that specialize in cruise.
"If there's a cure or vaccine people will flood back to cruising," Fee said. "There are diehard cruisers, and we are already hearing from them. They are saying, 'as soon as this is over, we are getting back on a ship. We are not afraid.'"
Hamawy added: "Most of our repeat clients have informed our agents that they will likely book again when it appears to be safe."