The current travel climate might have hit pause for both the lines and cruisers, but the experts say that cruisers are still active and planning ahead for 2021, an exclusive survey by River Cruise Passenger has found.

We consulted top agents, lines  – and ran a poll of our own readers. The results clearly show cruisers are voting with their booking, and 2021 is going to be a bumper year. But 2020 will take some serious work to get interest.

River Cruise Passenger’s snap poll of almost 100 readers found that a big majority won’t be booking until the all clear from COVID-19. But there was a strong response from people saying that they will be booking for 2021.

Some readers said they are still booked for August, September and October in 2020 and are hoping to go.  Reader John Mac said: “Already booked for September 28. Will have to wait and see what happens.”

And Tracey Filocamo said: “We had already booked for end of October this year…still hope to go!!”

We spoke to travel experts at Global Journeys and Bicton Travel and they both think that river cruising around the world is likely to return in 2021.

Cruisers with existing bookings are moving them to next year and some new bookings are even being locked in for late 2020 and into 2021.

Some agents are preparing for a ‘pent up’ demand for travel. With existing bookings pushed to 2021 and new bookings coming in from later this year, 2021 might just be shaping up to be a packed season.

“I’m not sure what will happen with the 2020 main season, but I suspect there will be so much pent up demand that the low season cruises such “Christmas Markets” (late Nov & Dec) and cruises over Christmas & New Year period will sell out quickly,” says Barry Downs of Bicton Travel.

“River cruise lines are reporting that May, June and September 2021 are strong up as guests defer 2020 plans and lock in 2021 early. There are new bookings admittedly small in numbers, again centred around late 2020 and 2021.”

“We think the river season for Europe and Asia is likely to return in 2021. New bookings are scarce at this time but many clients are deferring bookings for 2020 into 2021. Everyone is hoping to travel again once the coronavirus challenge is passed and some clients are optimistically moving their current bookings into the next season,” says Georgie Walpole, Operations Manager of Global Journeys.

“We are encouraging clients, as they come closer to their departure, to defer their trips to 2021 or 2022. Those with bookings in 2021 are encouraged to hold on to their bookings.”

Will 2021 be a packed season? What happens between now and later this year with travel generally will define whether 2021 shapes up to be packed. It is likely that there will be a later booking period for the 2021 season.

“I’ve had many friends and family say they can’t wait for this to be over and once it is they are going on a holiday. Let’s hope they all want to go on a cruise (ocean or river),” says Mr Downs.