Domestic sailing in 2021 predicted to attract new-to-cruise customers

Cruise lines are going to “offer a staycation like no other” this summer, according to the chair of Clia.

Tony Roberts predicted round-UK sailings would also attract new-to-cruise customers as he addressed confirmation by the Department for Transport this week that domestic sailings will be allowed to restart at the same time as leisure and hospitality businesses in the UK.

That could be as early as May 17. Princess Cruises, of which Roberts is vice president for the UK & Europe, is among the lines that have put sailings in UK waters on sale. Others include P&O Cruises, Cunard and Hurtigruten.

“We’re very excited,” said Roberts. “In the context of staycations, these cruises are going to appeal to people who haven’t cruised before, particularly when compared to other cruising opportunities.

“There’s definitely a view that the most loyal cruisers will be the first to come back, but the proposition [cruise lines will be offering] this summer will be interesting when you put it side-by-side against other staycations.

“Once people have an appreciation of what’s included, they will see that it’s an incredibly strong value option.

“And once they’ve tried it, it’s very hard [for them] not to go again so this is a fantastic opportunity for the UK cruise industry.”

Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer added that customer retention was high in the cruise sector.

He said figures show that 87% of people who have taken a cruise will do so again within 12 months.

Roberts added: “This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the value of a cruise holiday. These extensive luxury resorts will be out at sea off the coast of the UK this summer. As a proposition, this is very exciting.”

He said the entertainment, dining options and bar experience on cruise ships should really appeal to – and impress – British holidaymakers.

Bud Darr, executive vice president of maritime policy and government affairs for MSC Cruises, predicted demand for domestic sailings would be strong, especially since it represented a safe holiday option.

“There is pent-up demand there,” he said. “People are interested in cruising and if sailing around the UK only is the option that’s being provided then they will want to do that, especially when it’s compared to other staycations.

“Cruising offers a very controlled environment compared to other interactions in day-to-day life.”

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