AAA Travel says sailing is making a strong comeback after the pandemic temporarily halted sailing. The Auto Club Group’s travel agency reports that cruise bookings over the past four weeks have been twice as strong as this time last year and expects this positive momentum to continue through the travel season.
“We are seeing the resurgence of travelers who are eager to take a vacation again and that includes sailing,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel at AAA – Auto Club Group. “Sailing is now more available than ever during the pandemic. Destinations are easing travel restrictions and cruise lines are hoping to reach full capacity in the second half of the year. As a result, our travel agency is seeing a broad mix of bookings that includes everything from Short weekend trips and even round-the-world trips.”
CDC lowers travel warning for cruises
AAA notes an increase in traveler confidence as COVID-19 cases trend down. Another positive sign came last week when the Centers for Disease Control lowered its cruise travel warning to level 2. This is the lowest level since the CDC began tracking coronavirus statistics. In a reduced travel warning, the CDC encourages travelers to be up to date on their COVID vaccinations when sailing.
AAA found that Americans consider sailing as safe as resort vacations and safer than exploring large cities. In fact, 43% of Americans who plan to take a cruise in the future are satisfied with the cruise industry’s overall response to the pandemic.
Cruise lines have implemented several safety protocols on board, which are often reviewed and can vary by provider:
- Vaccination and testing requirements for passengers and crew
- Improved medical facilities
- Upgraded ventilation systems
- Hand washing and hand sanitizer dispensers in high traffic areas
- Contactless room service
- Use of medical cleaning materials
- Virtual safety briefings.
“Not only do travelers want the cruises, they are very happy with the experience,” Haas continued. “Unlike some other service industries, cruise ships are running at 100%. So, the level of service is very good. As a result, satisfaction levels with cruises are higher than they were before the pandemic.”
Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe are among the most popular tourist destinations. While some of these cruises require an international flight to get to the first port of call, Americans may be surprised to learn that there are increasing options for sailing from the United States to exotic destinations like Africa, Australia, Iceland and Tahiti.
“In one sailing, you can visit new corners of the world,” Haas continued. “One of the best things about sailing is that it offers so many options, from the range of experiences to the size of the ships and the ambiance. Travel advisors help match vacationers to the cruise that best suits their interests because each cruise line has unique personalities and programs. Also, they create Ship type offers another range of options from large oceangoing vessels with superb entertainment options for multi-generational vacationers, to river cruises that provide intimate experiences that transport travelers deeper into destinations.”
when to book
The demand for all things travel – including cruises – is increasing day by day. Also, global fuel prices are much higher than they were last month, which could affect the prices of airline tickets, cruises, and more.
“If you’re planning to travel anytime soon, it’s time to make a reservation,” Haas said. “With strong demand and volatile oil prices, booking early will ensure you get the vacation you want at the optimal price. This is especially true for cruise lines. They open bookings two years early before sailing and sometimes offer better rates for booking early.”