More than 80% of luxury cruisers are planning to sail next year, with the majority waiting until they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to research by Mundy Cruising.
The latest client study from the cruise specialist retailer follows positive preliminary results announced by vaccine development projects in the UK and US this month.
With hope of a vaccine on the horizon, the study found just under half (47%) of respondents would only cruise once they and the majority of the population had been vaccinated, compared to 39% who would cruise once they had been vaccinated, even if the majority of the population had not.
Mundy said that to a “bullish” 9% of respondents, a Covid vaccine “made no difference” to their intentions to cruise and they “would get on a cruise ship tomorrow if they could”, while 3% said they would cruise without being vaccinated, provided that the majority of the population had already had the jab.
Quizzed over when they believed they would cruise again, 30% of respondents expect to sail in the second quarter of 2021, while 22% have their sights set on the third quarter of next year. A further 18% expect to be back onboard between October and December 2021.
A number of cruise industry leaders have suggested a spring restart in the UK would be viable, although 11% of Mundy clients believe they will be back cruising before April.
Mundy has also been measuring the change in sentiments towards cruising and Covid-19 over the course of the pandemic.
Its most recent survey showed that 19% of respondents don’t expect to cruise again until 2022 or later, a percentage that is unchanged from a previous survey carried out in the summer.
The research also found that 74% of respondents are planning an ocean cruise for their next trip and 14% have a river cruise in mind.
Mundy said the figures were a “significant shift” since the summer, when 55% expected their first post-pandemic cruise to be an ocean voyage and 30% were planning river cruises.
The agency’s July 2020 survey highlighted a shift among luxury cruisers towards smaller ships after the pandemic – emphasised again in the most recent study – with 51% saying they now prefer to travel on a ship carrying 50- 500 guests, compared to 37% before the pandemic, and the percentage favouring a ship carrying 1,000 guests or more has dropped from 15% to just 7%.
Edwina Lonsdale, Mundy Cruising managing director, said the latest study had given her agency "a lot of food for thought”, adding the survey’s “overriding sentiment is one of cautious optimism” when it came to the resumption of cruising next year.
“Mundy clients are a well-travelled, well-informed and pragmatic bunch, so it’s no surprise to us that their responses are grounded in a realistic appraisal of where things stand,” she said.
“We know that a vaccine will take time to roll out, which is why the cruise lines are pressing ahead with their detailed and exhaustive plans to ensure that cruising post-Covid is safer than ever.”
Lonsdale added that the positive vaccine news “had clearly given our clients a much-needed boost”, with her business seeing “bookings significantly up” since updates were announced.