Cruise Trips Bouncing Back in a Big Way, Expedia Says


The article was published on June 15, 2021 in Canadian Travel Press.

The cruise industry has taken a beating from many folks in the media in the last 15 months. But it’s bouncing back in a very big way, officials say.

Consumers are taking longer and more lavish voyages, and confidence in the health and safety of the cruise industry is very high, they said.

Expedia Group today unveiled new data and insights during its Expedia Cruises 2021 Virtual Conference. There was plenty of good information for consumers to keep in mind as the travel industry begins its long-awaited rebound.

  • The average length of cruise bookings jumped from nine days in the first quarter of 2019 to 11 days in the first quarter 2021, and the average spend per cabin has also increased by just over 100% for bookings in first quarter 2021 compared with bookings in the first quarter of 20191, showing a willingness from some cruise travellers to spend more on their cruise than pre-pandemic.
  • With US vaccination rates up and more relaxed travel restrictions, 44% of new bookings in the first quarter of this in the US market were for 2021 departures, 20% of which are for this summer. People are demonstrating that they want to cruise again as soon as possible.2
  • Newly released research also revealed that the desire to cruise spans different age groups: although Millennials (53%) and Gen Zers (56%) are comparably comfortable with taking a cruise, Millennials (12%) are nearly twice as likely as Gen Zers (7%) to have booked a cruise for some time during the next six months.3
  • New research also showed that despite travellers currently spending more per cabin, lower pricing matters more in cruise compared with other forms of travel in some markets. From research that looks at what travelers value the most when booking a trip, cruise travel was the only line of business where travelers from numerous countries ranked low pricing as the top value. Separately, younger generations tend to be thinking more about environmentally-friendly policies when thinking about cruises, most notably with Gen Z in North America ranking it jointly in the second spot after value.4

“We’re really seeing that the recovery is near,” Greg Schulze, Senior Vice President, Transport and Cruise at Expedia Group, told reporters.

A recent survey of Expedia cruise agents found that 70% of them expect to reach 2019 cruise levels by the end of next year, which is remarkable.

Expedia officials said Canada is lagging behind the US in terms of travel interest, but they expect that will change as our vaccination rates climb.

Kyle Matheson, an Expedia Cruise agent in Richmond, B.C., said Canadians are starting to book now.

“Our customers have 2022 planned. Some have 2023 planned. Now they’re saying, ‘Aha, I’m fully vaccinated. Where can I go now? Where can I go this November? Where can I go this Christmas. That’s what we literally see in the last two weeks as people get back that confidence.”

Cathy Denroche? Oceania Cruises, noted that the company’s 180-day world cruise, which went on sale earlier this year, sold out in 24 hours.

“People haven’t lost one ounce of confidence in the cruise industry,” she said.

Cruise prices haven’t been affected much, but the increase in demand for travel in the US has caused a significant increase in prices for airline tickets and for rental cars, Expedia officials said.

1 Via Expedia Group retail stores only
2 Expedia Group cruise North America demand data, Q1 2021
3 Expedia Group and Morning Consult, American traveler survey, 2200 respondents, May 2021
4 Expedia Group and Wakefield research, June 2021