Without question, the entire travel industry was hit hard throughout the pandemic. However, one business was dealt a noticeably more significant blow than many others — cruising. Now that much of the world has reopened and countries are welcoming cruise ships again, cruising is set to come back with a vengeance.
Cruises offer incredible value and are often one of the cheapest ways to vacation. Travelers are able to unpack their bags once, see several different countries, and travel in luxury between them, all for less than the cost of many hotels. What’s not to love?
A Rocky Start
The first major cruise line to restart sailings in the U.S. was Celebrity Cruises in June of 2021. In a sign of things to come, Celebrity was able to bypass the CDC’s requirement to perform ‘test cruises’ by requiring 95% of the passengers to be vaccinated. As other cruise lines followed and omicron began to make headlines, many started requiring passengers to be vaccinated.
Cruise cancellations were still an issue at the start of this year when every U.S. cruise ship with passengers aboard reported Covid cases. This was despite nearly every cruise line requiring passengers to be fully vaccinated and tested before boarding.
The world, and cruising especially, has come a long way since then. However, it was undoubtedly a rough start for the cruise industry. Thankfully, it seems the worst is behind us, and cruising is finally taking off once again. Indeed, this is just the beginning.
Making Up For Lost Time
Chaos reigned at airports over the summer. This was largely because of the overwhelming demand for travel after 2 years of intense restrictions. The aviation industry wasn’t ready, and many travelers faced delays, cancellations, and lost luggage as airlines and airports struggled to keep up. Now that cruises are up and running again, travelers are eager to get back out on the water. But don’t just take our word for it! President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, recently confirmed this during a press conference.
“Our short product ships are sailing at 110 percent and our longer cruises are now sailing at around 100 percent, so it’s good to see that it’s all come back… As we look forward into 2023, we feel pretty optimistic about how it’s all looking.”Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International
As Restrictions Ease, Demand Increases
Many destinations around the world saw record-breaking numbers for tourism this year. Unsurprisingly, many of the most-visited countries were those that got rid of all covid restrictions early on. Many popular destinations in Mexico, like Cancun, Los Cabos, or Puerto Vallarta, have all broken records this year. Aside from the pent-up demand driving more visitors, Mexico was one country that remained largely unrestricted throughout the pandemic.
Cruising will be no different.
With most cruise lines now allowing unvaccinated guests aboard with proof of a negative test, all travelers can now get back to the water in style. However, some travelers have still held out, waiting until restrictions are entirely scrapped. Recently, Norwegian became one of the first major cruise lines to do away with vaccination and testing requirements.
Now, passengers can cruise with Norwegian regardless of vaccination status and will not have to take a pre-departure test. As other cruise lines follow in Norwegian’s footsteps, all barriers to entry for cruising will vanish, and demand will follow.
Bigger, Better, and More
Cruise ships can be huge. For travelers who have never been on a major cruise line’s ship, it can be mind-boggling how large they truly are. And yet, cruise lines continue to push the boundary with every new ship announcement. Cruise ships are getting bigger and better — and more numerous. Cruise lines know that cruising is poised to take off and are ordering new ships to take advantage of the increase in demand.
Royal Caribbean just announced the largest cruise ship in the world, The Icon of the Seas. Set to launch at the start of 2024, Icon of the Seas will hold up to 5,610 guests and have over 40 restaurants, seven pools, and 18 decks. As we said, ships can be huge!
However, Royal Caribbean isn’t the only major player banking on increased demand. From now through 2024, there are over 18 new cruise ships launching from cruise lines such as Norwegian, Disney, Celebrity, MSC, Royal Caribbean, and more.
Cruises offer value like no other vacation. Often cheaper than hotel rooms in some major cities, nightly rates for cruises provide much more. All-inclusive food and drinks, free entertainment, and transport between popular destinations worldwide allow travelers to see and do so much for a price that sometimes seems unreal. Even though cruise demand is increasing by the minute, cruise lines are still offering great deals.
As hotel rates begin to skyrocket in many of the world’s most popular destinations over the next year, cruises will begin to seem even more appealing to travelers who are wondering what they should do for their next vacation. Once all options have been weighed, cruises are going to look extremely attractive.
When combined, all the factors discussed above point towards cruising becoming an increasingly popular choice for vacationers and, ultimately, cruising coming back with a vengeance.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com