Cruise lines see spike in bookings for 2022

Kaye Holland
·4-min read
'The interest we are seeing highlights the pent up demand for long haul locations' - ALLEN J SCHABEN / GETTY
'The interest we are seeing highlights the pent up demand for long haul locations' - ALLEN J SCHABEN / GETTY

Cruise lines remain confident that there are calmer waters ahead, with strong bookings reported for 2022 sailings and a focus on long-haul and exotic destinations.

Carnival Corporation – the world’s largest cruise company whose portfolio of cruise brands includes Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and Cunard among others – said it has already booked more cruises for the first half of 2022 than it did in 2019, despite minimal advertising or marketing.

Speaking during a fourth quarter earnings call, Carnival’s chief financial officer, David Bernstein revealed: “Our cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2022 are ahead of a very strong 2019, which was at the high end of the historical range.”

Mr Bernstein added: “We are seeing good demand in all of the various cruise markets, whether it be Caribbean itineraries, Europe itineraries, there is good demand for Australia, world cruises, et cetera. It's broad-based and across all the brands.”

There will be a bumper crop of new ships taking to the water this year after the pandemic delayed a number of debuts
There will be a bumper crop of new ships taking to the water this year after the pandemic delayed a number of debuts

Carnival Corporation is not the only cruise company to have reported a high influx of bookings for future cruises.

Lynn Narraway, UK and Ireland managing director for Holland America Line, told The Telegraph: “We are seeing a very high booking trend for 2022 cruises – with destinations such as South America, Australia and New Zealand and Alaska proving popular. The interest we are seeing highlights the pent up demand for long haul locations offering incredible landscapes and adventure.”

MSC Cruises has also recorded a new-found interest in “exotic destinations for winter, as passengers feel more confident travelling further afield and the desire for aspirational travel has remained high during lockdown,” said Antonio Paradiso, managing director of MSC Cruises for the UK and Ireland.

A-Rosa and Seabourn are two other lines that have seen an increase in bookings, as the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout gives people hope that they will soon be able to cruise again.

Lucia Rowe, managing director of A-Rosa River Cruises UK and Ireland, said: “2022 is currently where we are seeing the most interest. We are also noticing that confidence is growing with the over 50’s market as the vaccine rollout gathers pace [...] and have high hopes for later this year and into 2022.”

A spokesperson for Seabourn concurred: “January’s news regarding the vaccine has brought with it a healthy increase in business for 2022 especially.”

Many cruise ships have been floating, without passengers, off the British coast since March 2020 - FINNBARR WEBSTER
Many cruise ships have been floating, without passengers, off the British coast since March 2020 - FINNBARR WEBSTER

Viking has also seen a surge in 2022 bookings. Wendy Atkin-Smith, managing director of Viking UK, told The Telegraph: “Based on demand we have already opened availability for both ocean and river cruises through to 2023. Guests are realising that if they don’t book now that there may not be availability when they are able to travel – especially with Viking as our ships are smaller than other cruise lines – but, above all else, they want to have something to look forward to.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Michael Wilson, the managing director of Bolsover Cruise Club: “Interest in 2022 and beyond into 2023 is actually very healthy indeed, with bookings similarly strong.

“Good progress with vaccinations and news of health and safety protocols being implemented by the cruise lines has seen a renewed confidence in travelling. We’re seeing a real determination to finally have something in the diary to look forward to and we’re noticing a trend for making it a trip to remember, too.”

Saga has announced that it will only be allowing vaccinated passengers on its cruises. It is the first British cruise line to make vaccination compulsory. The over-50s specialist was due to restart cruises in April, but will now delay restarting voyages until May 1 so as to give passengers ample time to receive their jabs.

The operator implemented its vaccination policy after polling 2,000 of its customers, with the majority in favour of allowing only vaccinated passengers to cruise.

A Saga spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our customers has always been our number one priority at Saga, so we have taken the decision to require everyone travelling with us to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Our customers want the reassurance of the vaccine and to know others travelling with them will be vaccinated too.”