(2:25 p.m. EDT) -- Over the past few weeks, some cruise lines, such as Viking and Crystal, have decided to bite the bullet and cancel the rest of their 2020 season.
But most others, including those owned by the big three cruise corporations Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, have continued the practice of canceling on a rolling basis. Currently, all cruise lines that belong to the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) are on a voluntary pause through October 31, 2020.
Which strategy do cruisers prefer? Over 5,000 Cruise Critic members responded to a survey on booking and cancellation trends for voyages in 2020. The results offer a revealing picture of what cruisers think should happen with the remainder of the 2020 cruise season.
Scrap 2020, Most Say
Out of 5,022 respondents, 64 percent (3,227) have a cruise booked between now and the remainder of the year. This could be a mixture of people with existing bookings and those who jumped on deals for late 2020 earlier on in the pandemic, or who have utilized existing future cruise credits.
Of the 3,224 respondents who have a cruise booked for the remainder of the year, the most -- 46.8 percent -- think cruise lines should cancel their entire 2020 sailing schedules.
Only 14 percent felt cruise lines should make the decision to cancel a sailing at the 30-day mark; while respondents were split evenly (19.9 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively) about whether cruise lines should cancel 60 days out or 90 days out.
"I personally am glad that Viking took the large leap and cancelled 'til January (instead of piece meal month by month as they have been doing)," writes CCWineLover on the Viking message boards. " I wouldn't be surprised if the first few months of 2021 are rather iffy as well..."
"I think it’s a bit naive to think this will magically be gone Jan. 1," writes cruiseintoheaven on a thread discussing Holland America's cancellations through mid-December. "The whole winter to me is a long shot."
Cruisers Are Eyeing a Q2 2021 Restart in the U.S.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the survey was how cruisers felt about the resumption of sailings from the United States.
Only 11.9 percent of respondents felt that cruises would resume from the United States before the end of 2020, given the fact that the industry is heavily affected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)'s "No-Sail" order; and directives from CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, for its member lines to voluntarily suspend sailings through October 31.
Instead, most -- 32.9 percent -- thought that cruising was most likely to resume between April and June 2021.
The second-highest-ranking timeframe with 28.1 percent of respondents was July 2021 or beyond, followed closely by January and March 2021, which garnered 27.1 percent of the tally.
What Do the Results Point To?
The takeaway from this survey of Cruise Critic's members, most of which have multiple voyages under their travel belts, is that while cruisers remain eager to set sail, most believe this will still be a long-term process rather than an overnight fix. Few have confidence that cruising from the United States will resume anytime soon, and most would welcome the opportunity to rebook their existing 2020 cruises for another time in the future.