More than half the passengers on Royal Caribbean International’s round-Britain itineraries have been new customers of the cruise line.
Speaking on a trade panel at the Future of Travel conference, sales director Stuart Byron revealed the Covid pandemic had “not all been dreadful” as it had provided an opportunity to showcase cruise to a new audience of UK holidaymakers.
The cruise line brought Anthem of the Seas back to the UK this summer to run short domestic cruises from July, which have been operating at load factors of more than 50%. Its success has led the line to extend the programme until the end of October.
Byron said: “The UK almost became the cruise capital of the world this year. It’s been a really incredible opportunity to get in front of a UK audience.
“We have been blown away by the level of demand for 2021. Staycations have opened up a new audience.
“New to Royal Caribbean passengers have been in excess of 50%. It’s not just in the UK. Our first ship out of Singapore was Quantam of the Seas and we had in excess of 80% new to cruise passengers there. It’s given us reassurance that there is a real appetite to get back on board.”
Looking ahead, Byron said this winter and 2022 sales were also performing “incredibly well”, particularly on rebookings from customers who have sailed with the line this year.
“We are ahead of where we would have been in 2019,” he told the conference. “We have seen a lot of guests sail with us domestically and book to go with us again. It’s about seeing and believing.”