Restart dates have been pushed back again to meet the new CDC rules
Cruise lines are continuing to extend suspensions in order to meet the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order issued by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Princess Cruises said that, in addition to the uncertainty around travel restrictions, the company is extending its pause of guest cruise holidays on ships sailing until May 14. This includes sailings in the Caribbean and the California Coast, along with early season Alaska and Europe cruises.
“We appreciate the patience from our loyal guests and travel agents as we work to meet the health and safety requirements for our return to service,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We continue to prepare our ships for our return to service and we are eager to see our guests back on board to create summertime memories.”
Guests currently booked on these cancelled cruises will have the option to receive a refundable future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 per cent of the cruise fare paid, plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 25 per cent of the cruise fare paid.
Sister company Holland America Line said that it is extending its pause of cruise operations for all departures until April 30. This includes Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Canada/New England departures.
The line also will cancel all Alaska cruises until mid-May, Alaska departures on three ships up to early June, any Land+Sea Journeys connected with cancelled Alaska sailings, Mediterranean cruises until early June and Zaandam’s Canada/New England itineraries until August.
It comes as a survey found that, despite suspensions, about two-thirds of regular cruise passengers are willing to take a cruise in the next year while 58 per cent of non-cruisers would be willing to try it in the coming years.
Clia’s 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report outlined that there is a positive story going into 2021 with 27 Clia member cruise ships due to launch next year – taking Clia’s global fleet to 270 vessels.
Kelly Craighead, Clia president and chief executive, said: “For the cruise community, there is no denying that 2020 was not the year we anticipated. Still, the industry wasted no time adjusting course to address the challenges before us.
“Clia’s 2021 report highlights the extraordinary steps the cruise community took to develop and implement enhanced public health protocols to keep putting people first, while continuing to focus on innovation and responsible tourism practices that make cruising the best way to experience the world.”
The report also found that passengers spent $385 in port cities before boarding a cruise and $100 in each port during a cruise.
The full 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report can be viewed here.
We chat to Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures, to hear about the operator’s products in Corfu, Ibiza and more
Late last year, G Adventures launched seven new tours to some of Europe’s most popular destinations, with the company encouraging agents to consider what’s on offer beyond the mass market. The new tours cover Ibiza, Corfu, the Azores and Crete – albeit to lesser-known areas within those destinations and a focus on hiking. The tours have been created with UK and European travellers in mind, with the first tour due to depart in March. The collection was informed by research undertaken by G Adventures, which said that travellers from the UK and Europe were the most likely to travel internationally in the next six months. We spoke to managing director Brian Young to find out more.
ABTA Magazine: Can you tell us about the trends behind these tours?
Brian Young: “We surveyed our customers and asked them about their propensity to start travelling again, and we found two things: first, if the conditions are right, such as the travel corridors being open, then customers will travel – so there is demand. Second, we found that our customers want to travel much closer to home. Usually, at this time of year, when we ask for their top 10 destinations, Europe would be bottom of that pile or not in it at all, but this time it came out really high, because the reality is that it’s going to be the travel corridors that allow things to get going again. Another trend that we’ve seen is people wanting to do more hiking and more active type adventures. If you think about lockdown, you could only get out for a short space of time, so you suddenly had lots of people hiking and walking that would never have done it before, and then there’s Joe Wicks, who has galvanised the country to get out and get fit – these two things have collided to create this desire for hiking holidays. We looked at this and thought we should do this in mainstream destinations that are the bread and butter for travel agents. For customers, they can visit a destination that they love; they might be going back there to enjoy it in a different way.”
Most of these holidays are quite short. Do you have the city-break market in mind?
“Definitely. In Corfu, there is a trek that takes that you from the north of the island to the south and takes about two weeks. But the issue is you’re constantly backpacking and overnighting in different places – the beauty of this tour is you’re based out of Corfu Town, which is central and a great capital, and you hike in the day and then go back to the hotel at night, so you see the best of the trail but you’re based in one place. Plus, you get the chance to see Greece as it was 30 or 40 years ago. And because the tours are short, you can add a beach holiday on the end of it.”
Are lead in times going to be shorter or longer?
“I think you’ll see both. As soon as corridors open up, there is demand for sure. There will be an element of people getting away at the last minute, because it’s an opportunity to take – people are fed up and just want to get away. Then there will be people booking further away. We have a Book with Confidence policy that gives the customers the ability to change their booking for whatever reason. It will be influenced by the fact that these hiking tours are predominantly in the shoulder period [mostly spring] – you can’t get away from the fact that in the summer it’s way too hot to be hiking.”
What will be doing with the trade?
“Agents will know the destinations intrinsically, so it’s about product training. We’ve built a load of assets, so that agents can put them up on social media and in newsletters. In our Facebook group, Agents of Change, the amount of buzz the tours have created [is great]. Agents have been like, ‘This is amazing, we can definitely sell this’ and asking for more assets. A lot of them have said, ‘This is right up my alley, I’d love to do this’, so we want to get agents out to see this product. For example, everyone thinks about Ibiza being a party destination, but it’s grown up a lot of the last 10 years, and you get a very diverse mix travelling there; there’s an amazing side of this island that we want people to see.”