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Believe it or not, people are still booking cruises for next year

Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The coronavirus pandemic left dozens of cruise ships temporarily stranded at sea, not allowed to dock because of onboard outbreaks of the deadly virus.

It happened with the Norwegian Jewel in the South Pacific, the Zaandam off the coast of Florida and the Grand Princess in the waters off Northern California, among several others.

Despite such harrowing news, Chris Schuck, hasn't canceled three cruises he has booked over the next two years, with the earliest in September.

"After this virus, I truly believe the cruise lines will institute even more guidelines to keep guests and crew safe," said Schuck, who works in the scheduling and labor department at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Schuck isn't the only cruise fan who remains faithful. Travel agents and industry experts say bookings for cruise sailings in 2021 are up considerably compared with precoronavirus data.

Cruise lines that canceled sailings in the last few months have offered refunds or credits toward future trips. Still, travel agents and experts say the booking rates for cruise trips in 2021 represent more than just passengers rebooking their canceled trips.

 

In the last 45 days, CruiseCompete.com, an online cruise marketplace, has seen a 40% increase in bookings for 2021 compared with 2019, said Heidi M. Allison, president of the company. Only 11% of the bookings are from people whose 2020 trips were canceled, she said.

"People are still booking cruises and are anxious to sail again when this is all over," she said.

In an analysis of the cruise industry, Swiss banking giant UBS wrote that cruise booking volume for 2021 was up 9% in the last 30 days compared with the same time last year.

The UBS report, issued March 31, said the bookings for 2021 cruise trips included people using their credit for canceled sailings but added that volume "still shows a surprising resilience in desire to book a cruise."

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