Negative Cruise Stories Having Less Impact Than In Past
A few events in the past five weeks have brought unwanted attention to the cruise industry.
It started with a norovirus incident aboard Royal Caribbean that received international media exposure. Then there was the tour bus crash in Mexico that took the lives of 12 passengers from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships.
Most recently, Norwegian Breakaway had a weather-impacted sailing which received significant media coverage, but certainly nothing compared to coverage in years past given to cruises pounded by waves in bad weather.
At this point, the view is these all three of these incidents will create nothing more than a short-term problem in a business sense.
CruiseWeek asked cruise execs and travel agents about the noro matter. Both said that potential cruisers now take norovirus in stride, unless there's some unique horror story attached to the outbreak or if it's unusually intransigent – going on week after week. There are a lot of facts and figures out now that simply weren't the case 10 years ago when a noro incident in December would hurt bookings in January.
Meanwhile, the tour bus crash is not widely seen as being cruise related but is instead the latest tourism woe in Mexico. It wasn't on a ship, and the fact is the driver was cited for negligence and excessive speed.
There have been positive stories shifting the balance too, like the spectacular MSC Seaside launch in Miami and a glowing Q4 report from Carnival Corp.
It's unlikely that any of the December news events pertaining to cruise will derail or propel Wave Season. For the most part, the positive booking trends first seen in November continued into December, which is one reason why the retailers outlook for 2018 was generally upbeat.
A current unknown is whether or not the abnormally cold spell in much of North America in the early part of JAN could help propel the second and third weeks of the month into the start of being a strong Wave.