Cruisers looking for luxury, longer voyages, small ship charters, and overseas destinations are likely to face a shortage of cabins and price rises, according to experts who spoke to Cruise Passenger this week.
Travel agents are predicting that there will be higher demand for sailings and itineraries than pre-COVID, spurred by the tens of thousands of passengers still holding Future Cruise Credits.
Kathy Pavlidis, a cruise expert with Travel Associates, said she has seen rising prices as a genuine concern among her clients, particularly for those looking to book overseas and bucket list itineraries.
“Cruise prices are slowly on the rise. When you consider Aussies haven’t had a cruise in Europe since 2019, I don’t want anyone to think they are going to pay the same price for a cruise in 2023 as they did in 2019,” she said.
“I am seeing a slight price rise for the 2023 Europe season as demand is driving pricing. Booking levels for luxury cruises on particular sailings in Europe for 2023 are very, very strong and no one is complaining about the price. They are just grateful that they have something booked and something to look forward too. Many luxury cruise lines are offering some great value adds.”
Michael Schischka from Mary Rossi Travel said while there are no major price rises for 2022, prices for sailings in 2023 might be a different story.
“We think that once the borders are open and bookings are back to some sort of normality, there might be slight price increases. Unique itineraries are selling out first. Longer voyages to more remote destinations are mainly sold out already for 2022. Regent Seven Seas has already waitlisted Australia and New Zealand cruises for 2022/23 as well as Silversea’s 2024 Grand Voyage,” he said.
“But what we are finding is that solo passengers – like we’ve seen with Regent Seven Seas – are paying around 75 per cent of their fare, and discounted solo prices are only available in two suite categories.”
Mr Schischka said passengers have to bear in mind if there are future price rises, cruise lines have not been sailing in two years and have had to make expensive upgrades.
“The cruise lines are having to do a lot more planning, costing and executions to meet cruise COVID-safe protocols.
“Also, they’ve had to change their safety onboard protocols like installing expensive air filtration systems and isolation cabins and think about the safety on shore excursions. Costs need to be covered, which may lead to increase in the future.”
Lana Kanchik from Travel Managers said while she hasn’t seen a price increase, she believes that there will be high demand for certain types of cruises.
“What might be more in demand are private charters and smaller vessels like yachts and river ships where capacity is less than on the ocean cruise liners and their fares are already much higher than others.
But what about the contemporary and premium lines? Elizabeth Clarke from Cruise Centre said with the number of future cruise credits, some lines have to deal with two years’ worth of backlog.
“Book now. Book now. Book now,” she said.
“There’s a lot of people with future cruise credits and the lines are now trying to sandwich two years’ worth of peoples’ travel into six to eight months of actual ships operating. To get the cabins and itineraries that you want, you’ll need to book now.”
“It’s definitely critical to start planning with the hope of early next year but the certainty of the middle of next year.”
But Conor Day, cruise expert from Cruise 1stsaid he believes we will see ships sailing in our local harbours before we can cruise internationally.
“As far as my personal opinion goes, international cruising I don’t be commencing until roughly around the June and July time next year, domestic cruising 100% before then.”