CDC Says Defer Cruise Travel; Issues Report Inside the Princess Outbreak

Diamond Princess

A new CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevent) report recommends that travellers “defer all cruise travel worldwide” due to increased risk for coronavirus. The report is available here.

The report points out that coronavirus survived for 17 days on the Diamond Princess in an empty stateroom, and also outlines some 800 coronavirus cases between the Diamond and Grand Princess ships.

During the initial stages of the coronavirus, the Diamond Princess was the setting of the largest outbreak outside mainland China, according to the CDC.

“Cruise ships are often settings for outbreaks of infectious diseases because of their closed environment and contact between travellers from many countries,” said the CDC. “More than 800 cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases occurred during outbreaks on three cruise ship voyages, and cases linked to several additional cruises have been reported across the United States. Transmission occurred across multiple voyages from ship to ship by crew members; both crew members and passengers were affected; 10 deaths associated with cruise ships have been reported to date.”

The report is available here.

Technology Meets Cruise Trends

Port of Miami entrancePHOTO: Port of Miami entrance. (photo via Flickr/Phillip Pessar)Cruise travel is so hot right now.

In order to determine just how hot, advertising platform Sojern partnered with Google to ascertain the outlook.

The three biggest takeaways from the report pertain to mobile planning, influence and alternative forms of travel. First, there has been an uptick in mobile cruise searches during 2017—33 percent to be exact, accounting for 29 percent of such overall searches. Second, pricing (89 percent) and entertainment (47 percent) are among the factors that influence potential cruisers.

Third, those searching for other vacations may still opt for a cruise in time.

Additionally, the report cross-referenced Google’s treasure trove of search and survey data with Sojern’s own intent information from traveler profiles and purchase signals.

As much as mobile and online are important these days, offline booking is still viable. Of past cruisers, 41 percent still made their reservations either by utilizing a travel agent or calling the cruise line directly. However, trends are certainly shifting more digital, so online travel agencies are crucial. After all, 69 percent of cruisers desire to book their next trip online.

Going digital is an influence in itself. The video specifically is cited as an important tool in capturing travelers’ attention, (which is one of the very reasons I produce my own Popular Cruising YouTube channel).

As far as marketing is concerned, there is a multitude of paths a buyer may take before booking.

One of the most common, with a 37 percent share, remains a simple cruise search followed by the reservation. However, there are also bookings that follow one or more searches for other travel forms and agencies either before or after a cruise inquiry.

In other words, agents, as well as cruise lines, should have a strong online presence, especially via social media.

As one might expect, searches for key air destinations also correspond to cruise searches. In the top ten are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston, Cancun, Vancouver, San Juan, Honolulu, and Tampa.

Given most of these are also cruise hubs, it makes perfect sense that a search for something land-based might transfer over to something cruise based.

The report points out that, despite the wonderful all-inclusive value proposition of cruises, it is not always what leads people first to a cruise. Rather, it’s more often about a destination or experience.

Once another gets them interested, however, the value is a great way to win them over.

It’s worth noting a majority of cruise searches still occur on desktop platforms and almost all bookings are made on the desktop over mobile. During a week, most searches happen on Mondays and Tuesdays, with three-quarters via desktop. However, by the weekend, mobile searches account for one-third of the traffic.

Meanwhile, only 9 to 11 percent of reservations are actually made over mobile versus the remainder via desktop. There definitely seems to be potential to convert more mobile searches to bookings accordingly. Perhaps apps need to mature in this area to ensure better consumer confidence.

Ultimately, there remain plenty of ways in which a traveler can research and purchase a cruise vacation. Both cruise lines and travel agents need to simply be aware of the prime marketing positions and avenues to occupy.

CLIA: Cruise Industry Continues to See ‘Steady Growth’

The worlds largest cruise ship, the 361 metres long, Harmony of the Seas, arrives in port  for her mayden voyage, in Southampton, Britain May 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The worlds largest cruise ship, the 361 metres long, Harmony of the Seas, arrives in port for her maiden voyage, in Southampton, Britain May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The international cruise industry is continuing to see a steady pace of cruise travel interest and significant investment in the industry, according to the Cruise Lines International Association’s 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report.

In the report, released Friday, the world’s largest cruise industry association says cruise travel is expected to continue to increase in 2017, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to cruise during next year. This represents a strong surge from the 15.8 million passengers who took cruises just ten years ago, in 2007, CLIA says.

More ships are set to set sail in 2017 as well. CLIA reports that cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new ocean, river, and specialty cruise ships in 2017 representing a total investment of $6.8 billion. Over the next ten years, the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships, marking an estimated investment of $53 billion through 2026.

“The cruise industry is responding to global demand and we are highly encouraged by both the short-term and long-term outlook,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to desires of today’s travelers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world.”

In 2015, cruise industry expenditures generated $117 billion in total output worldwide, supporting 956,597 full-time equivalent employees collectively earning $38 billion in income, according to new figures released by CLIA.

Along with the new data, CLIA also provided its list of the top eight cruise travel trends to watch next year. The list is provided below:

  1. New Generation Takes to the Water – A recent study found that younger generations—including Millennials and Generation X — will embrace cruise travel more than ever before, rating it as better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals, or camping.
  2. Travel Agent Use Increases – According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, consumer use of a travel agent increased nearly eighty percent from 2015 to 2016. Supporting this, CLIA is forecasting that travel agents will continue to be the matchmakers between travelers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010. CLIA also found that cruisers report high levels of satisfaction with their travel experience when assisted by an agent.
  3. River Cruise Demand Increases – River cruises offer travelers a unique and intimate travel experience. Due to demand, CLIA cruise line Members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about 7 percent.
  4. More Private Islands on Cruise Itineraries – As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travellers are responding and booking these itineraries. In 2017, cruise lines offer ports on a total of seven private islands.
  5. New Cruisers Will Take to the Sea – Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years nearly half (48 percent) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise while a striking 85 percent of cruisers also expressed interest.
  6. Drivable Port Locations in Favor – The cruise industry offers a variety of small and large market port location options across the United States and internationally. Citing the advantages of a myriad of locations seven out of ten (69 percent) non-cruisers believe the greatest benefit is cost savings and three quarters (74 percent) of cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
  7. Lure of Celeb Chefs – Cruise travelers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs. This year, several cruise lines feature restaurants and dishes created by famous chefs including Guy Fieri, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and Geoffrey Zakarian.
  8. Demand for Expedition Cruises – According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is growing at a record pace and CLIA is reporting that cruise expeditions are seeing the impact. In fact, itineraries for Antarctica regularly sell out.