Following a survey of over 1,400 customers, ROL Cruise, the UK’s No. 1 independent cruise retailer, has found a real appetite to return to cruise holidays with 43% having already made bookings that will depart within the next 12-months.
With 82% having enjoyed three or more cruise holidays within the last five years, these cruising fans have missed many different aspects of cruising amid the pandemic.
Almost half (46%) suggest that they have mostly missed the overall ‘on board experience’ including all-inclusive dining, entertainment and leisure facilities, while almost a third (30.5%) have missed discovering new destinations that cruising affords.
Just over one in every ten respondents (11%) aged 65+ said they have greatly missed the social aspects of cruising, including making new friends and acquaintances, compared to just 3.8% of those aged 25-64 who answered the same.
Intrigued as to whether travellers intend to book anything ‘different’ when returning to cruising for the first time, 42% said they will look to make changes to previous cruises they have taken. Of the 614 people, 27% said they will book a cruise with a longer duration, 26.2% suggested they will be selecting their favourite ship or cruise line, while a quarter (25.7%) confirmed they be booking a dream ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ cruise that they have been planning during lockdowns.
Just over a fifth of those (21%) also suggested that they will book a cruise line or ship that they have always wanted to try, or that they will be opting for an upgraded experience – such as an upgraded cabin, compared to previous cruise holidays they have taken.
When looking by age group, more than half (55%) of those aged 45-54 said they will be booking something ‘different’ when returning to cruising, with the majority suggesting they will be booking a dream cruise that they have researched amid the pandemic.
The research then delved down to find out what destinations are top of the visit list, and the Mediterranean in addition to the UK and Europe were almost level on votes received (51.6% versus 50.8% respectively).
This was then followed by the Caribbean (42.4%), North America (26.8%), Asia/Far East (23.09%), Australia & New Zealand (21.79%) and South America/Amazon (21.58%).
When it comes to booking a cruise holiday, almost a third (32.3%) said the most important factor are the destinations, followed by the cruise line or ship (21.6%). The booking protection and/or cancellation policy was then mentioned in third place by 16.9% of passengers.
Finally, ROL Cruise asked if passengers were able to chose one ‘benefit’ when booking a cruise, what would be their preference. Of the 1460 that answered the question, 23.8% opted for ‘free on board gratuities’, with special discounted offers mentioned by just under one third (19.45%).
Jennie Bond, broadcaster, presenter and Ambassador for ROL Cruise’s loyalty programme Cruise Miles said, “I have enjoyed cruising for many years and I have greatly missed having the choice to travel over the last eighteen months or so. For me, I miss discovering new places, meeting new people and generally enjoying the fantastic onboard facilities, activities as well as the option of hopping off to explore when arriving at a new port. I am already planning some cruises over the coming months and can’t wait to get back out on the water once more.”
Sarah Wikevand, Managing Director of ROL Cruise said, “There is a clear thirst to return to cruising with many of our customers already booked to travel within the coming year. They have clearly missed travelling to new places around the globe, while enjoying the many benefits that cruising brings – from the all-inclusive dining, to the entertainment, excursions and more. What’s great to see is that many are also looking to try something new when cruising returns, with many planning dream cruise experiences to make up for lost time, as well as cherry picking their cruise line and ship of choice.”