It was the election result not many had anticipated. But Scott Morrison’s win had high end cruisers reaching for the phone and dialling their travel agents.
Kathy Pavlidis from the luxury operator Travel Associates said the billion-dollar cruise industry, which counts self-funded retirees as their key customers, saw a slow-down, prior to the election.
She said there was a lot of nervousness around the loss of franking credit cash refunds, under a Labor proposal. For many retirees, this is how they fund their holidays, and Ms Pavlidis said the prediction of a Labor win resulted in a slow down in bookings.
“The top end of the market saw our “self-funded retirees” put their holiday plans on hold. Franking credits provide our clients with their annual spend for their holidays. And the threat of a Labor win was definitely spooking the market,” she said.
“But post election, we saw the top end of the market back in business. Phones were ringing off the hook from Monday morning. The most popular destinations and itineraries include last minute Alaska and European cruises for 2019 and we have also seen a massive surge in bookings for 2020.
“The most popular bookings include re-positioning cruises, Alaska, Japan, Baltic, Iceland and Europe. Let’s just say that life is good again.”
Luxury cruise line Silversea also saw a slight slow down in bookings. Managing director of Australia and New Zealand, Adam Armstrong said that the company saw bookings for the Silver Muse and Silver Spirit’s inaugural season in Asia, boom post election.
“In the lead up to this year’s Federal election, we saw a small slow-down in bookings for Silversea voyages, however this quickly rebounded afterwards to give our second biggest week of bookings this year to date. We found that demand for local sailings increased, in particular for Silver Muse when she returns to the region at the end of this year, and also for Silver Spirit’s inaugural season in Asia which will commence in December this year,” he said.
“As Silversea is an ultra-luxury, all-inclusive product with a high price point, we believe that a number of potential guests were nervous that a change of government could impact their personal finances, and therefore held off booking until post-election.”
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Asia-Pacific managing director, Steve Odell, said that by the middle of last week, inquiries and bookings started to pick up.
Mr Odell, who runs Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and the NCL line, said that two weeks before the May 18 election, cruise bookings had slowed right down.
He said retirees were now planning cruise bookings well into 2020. Bookings on Mediterranean trips in September and October were also rising.
“On a high level, there is always a slowdown around elections due to uncertainty around the result – especially in this instance as the country was expecting a different result. The franking credit issue, negative gearing and generally the proposed hit on retirees/baby boomers (who are still our main demographic) would have been impactful on cruise sales,” he said.
“The return of the existing Government means that from an economic outlook stand point the perception is things will remain ‘business as usual’, giving customers confidence to move forward with their travel plans.
“Now there is more confidence around all those issues, so bookings have spiked. We’ve seen a last minute boost to sales for 2019 departures, especially for Hawaii and Europe itineraries. We’re also seeing forward bookings now being firmed up for 2020 and 2021.
“Overall, it’s now a much more confident buying environment for the all three sectors of the cruising industry that we operate in; contemporary, upper premium and luxury,” Mr Odell said.