Demand Strong for Small Ships, According to Agent Survey

Scenic Eclipse

Scenic Group has conducted a survey to gauge the marketplace for river and small ship cruising, polling travel advisors.

Responses from nearly 500 travel advisors across the United States show a strong desire from their clients for both types of cruising – both through use of future travel credits due to cancelled sailings and new bookings, according to a statement.

While cruises and tours in North America lead the way for the rest of 2020 according to the survey, the shift towards Northern Europe and the Arctic regions returns to equity for 2021.

Flexibility with booking terms, refundable deposits, refunds for cancellations, and final payments due closer to departure are as important to the travel advisor’s clients as cruise destinations and lines that offer truly all-inclusive fares.

More than 60% of travel advisors noted river cruises are accounting for between 25% and 50% of all their cruise bookings, and 75% of the advisors are seeing small ship cruise bookings (250 passengers or less) grow to upwards of 25% of their cruise business.

Agents report 34% of their clients wish to convert cancelled or suspended vacation bookings to a small ship cruise. This choice is followed by independent travel at 30%. 

Top of mind for all travelers is safety concerns around COVID-19. The top three responses in order (55% of the respondents) to those concerns are “needing to know the ship’s response protocols for any onboard outbreak”, “knowing the proactive safety measures the cruise line is taking to prevent outbreaks”, and “how the onboard experience will change including food service.” Along the same vein, their clients are looking for reassurance when it comes to flexibility in booking and when it will be safe to cruise again.

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