Upscale and luxury cruise lines are more likely than contemporary brands to adopt Covid-19 vaccine requirements, according to a report from Truist Securities.  

The report, from Truist analyst Patrick Scholes, based the finding on information from executives at large travel agencies. 

"The deciding factor for the companies may be if a cruise brand will gain more customers by requiring a vaccine than they will lose by not requiring it," Scholes said. "In that case, it becomes a marketing issue." 

Truist noted that Saga Cruises, an independent, U.K.-based line that targets customers 50 and over, has already said that when it resumes service passengers will be required to be vaccinated. 

Scholes pointed out that whether or not cruise lines mandate vaccines, they may be required by airlines or destinations the ships visit, which could also limit the pool of potential cruisers. 

Last month, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio said the line was looking into the possibility of passenger vaccine mandates but said the crew would certainly have to be vaccinated.

Given the percentage of Americans who may never get a vaccine, Scholes said any cruise line that requires a vaccine has the potential to put a dent into its demand.  

"There will likely be a not insignificant segment of the population that refuses to take the vaccine, and this could present a problem for the cruise lines that institute a vaccine requirement," Scholes wrote, adding that a Truist survey observed that approximately 38% of respondents were not likely to get the vaccine or not sure if they would. "While it is too early to quantify what the financial impact to the cruise lines might be from this issue, we believe it safe to say it probably will not be zero."

Cruise Critic this week released the findings of a survey of 3,000 of its readers which found that a wide majority, 81%, would cruise if vaccines are required and that only 5% said that a vaccine requirement would absolutely deter them from cruising. The other 14% were unsure. 

Scholes said the results indicate that experienced cruisers (on the assumption that readers of Cruise Critic have previously taken a cruise) are more likely than noncruisers to cruise if vaccines are required.  

"In our opinion, not ever getting vaccinated presents a potential challenge for those cruise lines that may require a vaccine, though it is difficult to ascertain if non-vaxxers is an important/material demographic for the cruise lines that do require a vaccine," Scholes said.

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