AAA Travel says cruising is making a strong comeback after the pandemic temporarily put a hold on sailings. The Auto Club Group’s travel agency reports that cruise bookings during the past four weeks are twice as strong as this time last year and expects that positive momentum to continue through the travel season.
“We are seeing a resurgence in travelers who are eager to vacation again and that includes cruising,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Cruising is more available now than it ever was during the pandemic. Destinations are loosening travel restrictions and cruise lines hope to reach full capacity in the second half of the year. As a result, our travel agency is seeing a wide mix of bookings that include everything from short weekend excursions to worldwide voyages.”
AAA has noted an increase in traveler confidence as COVID-19 cases trend lower. Another positive indicator came last week when the Centers for Disease Control lowered its cruise travel warning to a level 2. That’s the lowest level since the CDC began tracking coronavirus statistics. In the downgraded travel warning, the CDC encourages travelers to be up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations when cruising.
AAA found that Americans view cruising as safe as resort vacations and safer than exploring large cities. In fact, 43% of Americans who plan to cruise in the future are satisfied with the cruise industry’s overall response to the pandemic.
Cruise lines have implemented numerous safety protocols onboard, which are often reviewed and can vary by provider:
“Not only are travelers more eager to cruise, but they’re extremely happy with the experience,” Haas continued. “Unlike some other service industries, cruise ships are 100% staffed. So, the service level is very good. As a result, cruise satisfaction levels are even higher than before the pandemic.”
Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe are among the most popular cruise destinations. While some of these cruises require an international flight to reach the first port of call, Americans may be surprised to learn there are growing options to sail out of the U.S. to exotic destinations like Africa, Australia, Iceland, and Tahiti.
“In one sailing, you can visit new corners of the world,” Haas continued. “One of the best things about cruising is that it offers so many options, from the range of experiences to the size of ships and ambiance. Travel Advisors help match vacationers with the cruise that best fits their interests since each cruise line has unique characters and programs. Also, ship-type creates another range of choices from large ocean-going ships with great entertainment options for multi-generational vacations, to river cruises that offer intimate experiences taking travelers deep inside destinations.”
Demand for all things travel – including cruising – is increasing by the day. Global fuel prices are also much higher than a month ago, which can influence the pricing for airfares, cruising, and more.
“If you plan to travel anytime soon, now is the time to book,” Haas said. “With strong demand and volatile oil prices, booking early will ensure you get the vacation you want at the optimal price. That’s especially true for cruise lines. They open up reservations as early as two years ahead of sailing and sometimes offer better rates for booking early.”
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I am glad the cruise industry is back up and running. Did you all happen to see the video of the cruise ship's close encounter with the monster tornado? That was some scary stuff! I could not imagine being onboard, and seeing that!
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