The cruise ship sector is picking up speed at a fast pace. While we said that 2021 was a year that the industry could just catch a glimpse of its pre-pandemic growth, 2022 is definitely the year to return to normalcy.
The summer of 2022 saw tourism reactivate with strength, and this involves the cruise ship sector. 2022 is a transition period for the industry and 2023 is the year when the sector may return to growth, reaching numbers never seen before.
Although not all cruise ships are operating again, most of them are, and many companies expect to have their fleets in operation this summer, such as MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), and Carnival Corporation.
At NCL, they are talking about a strategy where they have slowly increased their occupation levels to maintain the integrity of prices. At Carnival, they highlight the fact that they have renewed their fleet, leaving some classic ships behind and adding new, more efficient vessels. The company plans to introduce half a dozen new ships in 2022 alone. MSC will also be introducing two more ships this year.
According to CLIA data, in 2022 there are 272 cruise ships in operation, with an average capacity for 2,126 passengers.
Reduced on-board COVID-19 restrictions is vital for large cruise ships to regain their appeal. This is especially so in the United States, which covers 51% of the world’s cruise market. Almost all companies have eliminated or plan to eliminate mandatory masks on their ships based in the United States, and there is even talk of ending vaccination requirements.
Cruise ship companies confirm that this can be done, all while maintaining safety for both guests and the crew, working in close collaboration with local protocols and regulations at the destinations, based on how the pandemic is evolving.
With this state of things, what is left of the season seems very promising, to such an extent that cruise ship operators expect to hire more staff, with some new hires already completed.
Operators such as AIDA Cruises and Cunard Line are experiencing the most reservations this decade so far after launching their summer 2023 programme. In this regard, they highlight the importance of the role of travel agents when bringing extra value to the customer and guiding them to a cruise experience that meets their expectations.
Thus, cruise companies are optimistic that, as the months go by, cruises and routes demanded by customers will be reintroduced and we will return to historic occupation levels.
The cruise sector has great perspective in Spain, as well. According to a report commissioned by Costa Cruceros with consultants Human Highway, 30% of Spaniards (3.1 million people) would like to try this experience. The combination of gastronomy, cultural tours, and relaxation provided by cruises make them an affordable way to enjoy oneself in different locations around the world in a limited period of time.