(3 p.m. GMT) -- Cruise lines are seeing a spike in enquiries and bookings with the imminent re-opening of the U.S. to international travellers, including Brits.
The country has effectively been closed for all but essential travel since March 2020 and is set to reopen November 8 for leisure travel -- including cruise -- following an announcement on September 20 which confirmed fully vaccinated travellers would be welcome into the country.
Cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and Princess, and major cruise travel agents Iglu and Barrhead Travel, are reporting increased bookings for both Caribbean cruises from Florida this winter and West Coast cruises.
Princess has seen strong demand for West Coast sailings for early next year:
"A lot of U.K. guests are very interested in going to California and either doing Mexican Riviera or California coastal cruises."
The opening of new destinations to British travellers -- who are notoriously avid cruisers --can only help with booking numbers, which cruise lines have been saying are high, particularly in 2022 and beyond.
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"The announcement coincided with the upward trajectory we were already on, and the announcement has just added to that," Princess Sales Director Rachel Poultney said.
And while West Coast sailings are appealing to holiday-seekers, standards like the Caribbean are also top of mind. Royal Caribbean has said it's seen a surge in demand for sailings from Florida, a leaping off point for many Caribbean cruises.
"We have seen a real increase in demand and bookings for all Caribbean products since the news was confirmed," said Stuart Byron, Royal Caribbean's sales director for the U.K., Ireland and Spain.
The opening up of the U.S. will hopefully provide a much-needed boost to Caribbean bookings, which Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Harry Sommer said last month were somewhat slow in light of the delta variant.
"The Caribbean is a little soft," Sommer said. "When you listen to the cruising population, they're smart people.
"They closely follow what's happening in the world. And when we saw COVID cases starting to go up in mid-July, we did see a decrease in bookings."
Still, it's not just cruise lines that are seeing bookings soar with the re-opening of the United States. Online travel agencies confirm it's helped drive demand.
"We've seen an uptick in demand and enquiries since the announcement, but these aren't for imminent departures," said Simone Clark, senior vice president of global supply at online travel agent Iglu.
"People are booking in the main for next summer. Any late bookings we are seeing still tend to be for destinations closer to home."
Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, described the reopening of the U.S. as "a milestone in global travel recovery."
"Since the date of reopening was confirmed last month, there has been a notable surge in demand for bookings to depart this side of Christmas and early 2022.
"Many of our Miami customers are making the most of the winter sun and joining long-awaited Caribbean cruises while we have some clients heading west to pick up cruising from Seattle and California."
She added that they expect the November 8 opening will likely see cruisers looking to book last-minute deals for cruises over the next few months.