Travel Leaders Reports Strongest Wave Season In Years
Based on survey data from over 900 Travel Leaders Network Members, nearly 93% report year-over-year cruise bookings are higher than or on par with last year, and 81.3% are optimistic about the coming year, while another 15.2% are neither optimistic nor pessimistic.
Breaking down those numbers, 46.1% of survey participants say their overall cruise bookings are higher than this same time last year, while an additional 43.6% state their year-over-year cruise bookings are on par. As for Mediterranean cruises, 84.4% report bookings equal to or higher than last year.
"We are very optimistic that the early booking indicators for all cruises--and specifically Mediterranean cruises -- will hold throughout 2017," said John Lovell, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.
No one, noted Block, can predict terrorism or world events and uncertainty is probably the worst thing the business can have for discretionary type expenditures. That said, “So far Zika is still there. But it's really not the issue that it was, say, 12 months ago. Terrorism is not the issue it was 12 months ago.”
Lovell provided specifics to illustrate just how broad-based the strength is across the board. "Mass market cruising is seeing a very strong first and second quarter right now. Some of our larger players are seeing a 4-5% increase in total on the revenue side. With premium, we're getting a little higher revenue on the book versus last year — more in the 6-8% range.”
But it is the luxury cruise sector that stands out. “The luxury arena is very, very strong -- up by very high double digits. The luxury side has a longer tail change — we're seeing stronger third quarter, fourth quarter 2017 as well from current bookings.”
Lovell also noted pricing is holding, especially in the Caribbean: "We're seeing small degradations, nothing that's worrisome right now."
Overall, the future looks promising, too. "You look at all the barometers -- planes being built, hotels being built, cruise ships being built -- in the next five years we have 20+ cruise ships coming online," he noted. "And you look at what the distribution means to all these cruise lines.
“On average, they're spending a billion dollars on a cruise ship, we're selling 70%. I look at it as they are making a $700 million investment on this side of the equation. They're looking to us to fill their ships.”