Cruise specialists say the easing of travel restrictions will allow them to capitalise on demand for long-haul fly-cruises this winter and secure crucial short-term revenue.
Cruise365 managing director Anthony Blackmore welcomed the lifting of the US travel ban in particular, saying sales staff were looking forward to once again selling Panama Canal cruises, Alaska sailings and Las Vegas add-ons – even though Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises sailings out of Barbados this winter had proved popular with customers.
“People want long-haul again,” Blackmore added. “In Europe there’s only so much people want to do. People desperately want to go back to the States and go on longer Caribbean cruises.”
Scott Anderson, cruise product and marketing director at Luxury Cruise and More, predicted that sailings to the Caribbean from Florida and Bermuda voyages from New York were now going to “take off”.
He said 2021 business was “really welcome” as it helped cashflow. “We can get clients rebooking hopefully while they’re on board and get repeat business going again,” he added.
Paul Hardwick, head of commercial at Fred Olsen Travel, said Barbados cruise bookings currently made up almost a fifth of the agency’s winter cruise business.
Next month, he will introduce a company-wide sales incentive to drive short-term bookings.
“Cash levels are the biggest worry,” he said. “We’ve been concentrating on 2021 and Q1 2022 to help us cash-wise.”
Marco Macchieraldo, an agent for Paramount Cruises, said the reopening of the US was “key” to driving enquiries and revenue for long-haul specialists such as his own.
Silversea’s UK and Ireland managing director, Peter Shanks, said the Biden administration’s decision had effectively “protected” the line’s ex-Fort Lauderdale departures on Silver Spirit and Silver Whisper this winter. He added that Silversea remained “optimistic” about its 2021‑22 Antarctica programme, which is due to feature three ships.