Despite COVID-19's ongoing impact on the travel industry, 76 percent of Cruise Critic readers said they'll book a cruise in the future, with more than a third saying they're already looking for that next cruise vacation.
Most of the readers surveyed by Cruise Critic are avid cruisers -- many who have taken 10 or more cruises. Of those looking to book, most plan to cruise seven months or more from now. Only three percent say they won't book another cruise.
Cruise Critic launched its comprehensive survey beginning in April 2020. We've collected 35,000 responses worldwide.
With cruising on pause since mid-March, travelers have been asked by the cruise lines, in most cases, to either full refunds or future cruise credits, to be used for sailings down the road. Given this choice, 77 percent of Cruise Critic respondents said they chose the FCC.
Those who have seen their cruises canceled, though, are taking their time to decide on their next cruises. Some 48 percent say they're still deciding whether to book another cruise, while 30 percent say they will but haven't yet. When asked what would make them feel more confident about booking, respondents said they needed to see travel restrictions and warnings being lifted, COVID-19 cases decreasing and a COVID-19 vaccine.
For a look at recent sentiment among cruisers, we pulled results submitted between June 5 and June 16, from 3,571 respondents in our Cruiser Sentiment Survey. Here's what our audience had to say.
Many respondents currently have a cruise booked, and most are still planning to sail -- though most of these sailings are further in advance. The Caribbean/Bahamas and Bermuda top the list of destinations people would like to visit, followed by Europe (which includes the Mediterranean, a popular summer destination) and North America (which includes Alaska).
For those reconsidering their currently booked cruises, most are looking at trips that are scheduled to sail four to six months from now (42 percent), with an additional 31 percent reconsidering cruises seven to 12 months from now. Another 12 percent are reconsidering cruises 12 months or more from now.
Since March, the industry-wide pause has affected a significant number of sailings. And while we've seen many people on our forums discuss frustration over the delay in issuance of refunds or future cruise credits, respondents to our survey have rated the cancellation process rather positively.
Those who have gone through the cancellation process were asked to rate their experiences on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being "very satisfied."
Of those whose cruises were canceled by the cruise line, 77 percent have taken or will take an FCC, 18 percent have taken or will take a refund and 5 percent are unsure.
While there could be a number of reasons for the heavy preference toward future cruise credits, cruise lines have boosted the FCC option for canceled cruises, with most offering at least 125 percent of the value of the canceled cruise. Some cruise lines have sweetened the offer by adding items like onboard credit.
An overwhelming number of travelers show confidence in the industry and report that they will book a cruise, with many already going through the process. A whopping 76 percent say they will book a future cruise, while 37 percent already are looking to book. Only 21 percent say they are unsure whether they will book again, and 3 percent report they won't book a cruise in the future.
Unsurprisingly, those most confident about returning are avid cruisers who have been on 10 cruises or more. Experience proved to be the most significant driver of cruise intent -- far more so than age.
The million-dollar question, of course, is when will people sail. The current cruising suspension is scheduled through mid-September, with some cruise lines announcing even longer bans. And while return to service will dictate when cruisers can actually board ships, they're still looking at booking, with most focused on seven months or more from now.
While lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival have said cruisers shouldn't expect deep discounts on cruises because of the pandemic, cruisers still say the most important factor for booking a future trip is price. Given five options, of which respondents could choose several answers, most listed scoring a great deal as the top consideration.
Cruise lines are slowly providing information about potential health and safety measure coming to the industry, but details are still scant. Cruisers have said they would like -- and in many cases, expect -- changes to be made onboard and in the approach that the lines take to overall health testing and screening.
The most popular among those changes include:
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Updated July 01, 2020