Many cruise operators have jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of a predicted UK domestic holiday surge by offering ‘seacations’. Wrong moves such as a COVID-19 breakout on board could decrease travelers confidence and have a knock-on impact on much-needed income. However, if done right, these offerings have the potential to encourage further, higher-yielding bookings for international voyages later this year and into 2022, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Rheanna Norris, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Seacations have great potential to showcase cruise safety procedures and engender trust among travelers. This will be a much-needed reassurance after consumer confidence dropped in 2020. Opening up to the domestic market is also a smart move, as 78% of UK residents noted they will not reduce domestic travel in the ‘new normal’ after restrictions are lifted, according to a GlobalData survey*.
“However, there is little room for failure here. The number of shared facilities mean cruises present a risk for transmitting viruses easily, and COVID-19 safety on board is key to this operation. Strict safety procedures and traveler requirements such as a vaccine or negative test proof when embarking are essential”.
Requiring vaccination proof would be an easy option to resolve the on-board outbreak problem and avoid a costly disaster. However, this could prove ineffective as it is not certain how many people will be fully vaccinated by the summer. Further, this could exclude family bookings, which are valuable to cruise operators.
Norris concludes: “Despite concerns, this is a great opportunity for willing UK-based cruise-goers to start traveling again and bolstering cruise companies’ finances. Use of the ships will be welcomed after high lay-up costs led to devastating financial losses in 2020.”
*Survey undertaken 2-6 December 2020 of 509 respondents in the UK.