Back on the boat: Cruise industry shows steady post-pandemic rebound
More alcohol, more gambling, more spa treatments; go figure. Image via Bloomberg.

cruise
'Cruising is more available now than it ever was during the pandemic.'

People are anxious to head to the high seas again.

AAA Travel is reporting the cruise industry is steadily rebounding after being slammed hard by the pandemic. Bookings over the past four weeks were “twice as strong as this time last year,” the agency said in a release.

“Destinations are loosening travel restrictions and cruise lines hope to reach full capacity in the second half of the year,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA — The Auto Club Group in a news release. “As a result, our travel agency is seeing a wide mix of bookings that include everything from short weekend excursions to worldwide voyages.”

About 58 million Americans are considering booking a cruise in the next two years, AAA said. Among the most eager to travel are Millennials with the top destinations including Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe.

What’s helping boost consumer confidence is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered its cruise travel warning to a level 2 — the lowest level since the CDC began tracking coronavirus statistics, AAA said. The CDC recommends passengers be fully vaccinated.

“The travel landscape is quickly changing as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and more people look to get out and see the world again,” Haas said. “Cruising is more available now than it ever was during the pandemic.”

The return of cruising comes as some cruise lines have added stronger health measures from vaccination and testing requirements, beefed-up medical facilities and upgraded ventilation systems. On cruises, travelers can get contactless room service and access to more hand-washing stations. AAA said.

Cruises were hit especially hard during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Passengers were stranded on some boats with the virus spreading in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

Ships were docked when the CDC issued a no-sail order. The cruise industry came to a standstill.

Even as the boats set sail again, the Omicron variant was another setback, causing a wave of cancellations, outbreaks and itinerary changes.

More than two years into the pandemic, people are anxious to travel and to vacation again. Disney theme parks, for instance, recently posted one of its best financial quarters on record. “Pent-up demand,” has become a buzz phrase among hospitality leaders who report tourists are ready to return to normal and are venturing out.

“We are seeing a resurgence in travelers who are eager to vacation again and that includes cruising,” Haas said.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is a journalist who covers theme parks and Florida tourism. She previously worked at the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Toledo Blade and the Kalamazoo Gazette. She graduated from Michigan State University.



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