Oceania Cruises’ UK boss says demand for the line’s ex-UK sailings is “phenomenal” and predicts that no-fly cruises out of Southampton, Portsmouth and Edinburgh will be mainly sourced from these shores.
Speaking ahead of the line’s Tropics and Exotics 2022-23 programme going on sale next week, Bernie Carter said forward business has been positive for the line even though a cruise resumption date has not been confirmed.
Carter, the line’s senior vice president and managing director, EMEA, said: “We’ve seen phenomenal support and demand for our ex-UK sailings. We’ve not been able to welcome these people onboard in 2020 or 2021 [so far].
“In 2022, we’re also cruising from Southampton, Portsmouth and Edinburgh. Interestingly, the Americans are not pushing too hard at the moment. My feeling is we will have a very strong showing from Brits on those itineraries.”
Carter pointed to historical events – such as 9/11, the economic crash in 2008 and a spate of terror attacks in 2016 – to demonstrate why Britons would fill ex-UK sailings next year.
“This is quite critical,” he said. “After 9/11 and the economic crash in 2008, the Brits came in and filled the cruises. We saw it [again] in 2016, when the Americans stopped travelling after the terrorist attacks.
“We have seen a transfer from Brits being there to support the US to being the main market.
“Right now, you can imagine the demand for that no-fly market when everything opens up will increase again.”
He also praised sister line Norwegian Cruise Line for “pushing” its booking curve further out when the expectation for mass market brands is to have a “closer-in” curve.
“We have a ‘closer-in’ curve,” he pointed out. “As demand increases, we need a product to give to our consumers. What we’re seeing now is that initial push is turning into increased demand from guests that are wanting to get their bookings in 2022 and 2023.
“Guests are saying ‘I will travel’ and hats off to them.”
However, Carter admitted that the positive forward booking situation does not favour travel agents.
“I recognise that it does not help our travel partners who would normally be collecting balances and having people travelling this summer,” he added. “We have been very keen to look after the travel agent community with commission payments on cancelled [cruises] and also on the future cruise credits.”