Delta variant slows short-term bookings as cruise lines hesitate

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As the cruise industry continues to reboot, a resurgence of COVID cases caused by the Delta variant is negatively impacting short-term bookings.

Analyst Patrick Scholes of Truist Securities is cited in Travel Weekly claiming there has been a “significant slowdown in bookings over the past eight weeks”, which he attributes to a change in consumer confidence “directly attributable to the COVID-19 delta variant”.

The September Truist Demand and Price Survey builds on Scholes’ conversations with executives of major cruise travel agencies.

“Travel officials tell us that it has been very difficult for consumers and sales agents to keep up with the daily changes in visits and vaccines,” Scholes wrote.

“Such rapidly changing rules and requirements have deterred some would-be cruisers from booking cruise vacations and instead have led them to choose a shore vacation. For example, in the past two weeks alone, several popular cruise destinations have had COVID-related warnings / restrictions imposed on them. “

READ MORE: Half of Carnival Corporation’s fleet to leave by next month

Jason Ader, CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, told CNBC in a recent interview that bookings soared in early summer when cruise ships began to resume service, but plunged as the new strain of the virus took hold.

“For a few months the travel demand exceeded the peaks of 2019. It has calmed down in the last 60 days, because of the delta variant, so, I think not everyone knows how this ball is doing. go, ”Ader said.

nassau, bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas

In the Truist Report, Scholes said the positive booking pace for 2022 crossings compared to the same period in 2019 for 2020 cruises has now turned negative across all destinations, especially for winter crossings to the Caribbean. .

He added that while prices have remained high, it may not last. The combination of more ships scheduled to return and a hesitant market could force discounts.

For cruise lines, there is good news in the most recent report. Scholes said cruisers are “spending like never before” on onboard upgrades, including beverage packages, restaurant upsell and other discretionary items.

Executives of travel agencies and cruise lines are also delighted that they haven’t heard many concerns from customers about reports of minor outbreaks on ships. “For an industry that is under the media microscope, the very minimal negative repercussions of the relatively small epidemics so far are encouraging, in our opinion,” Scholes wrote.

READ NEXT: Royal Caribbean announces protocols for rest of October


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