Around-The-World Cruises Gain Traction Despite Pandemic

Jessica Wong

According to a new Bloomberg report, world cruises for Christmas 2021 and beyond are selling out in rapid succession, despite the horrors that befell the industry this time last year. Viking Ocean Cruises began accepting reservations again this past July for a multi-month world tour, with an anticipated departure of December […]

According to a new Bloomberg report, world cruises for Christmas 2021 and beyond are selling out in rapid succession, despite the horrors that befell the industry this time last year.

Viking Ocean Cruises began accepting reservations again this past July for a multi-month world tour, with an anticipated departure of December 2021 — rooms for the 930-passenger ship sold out in a matter of weeks. Five months later, in response to the obvious demand, the company slated a second cruise for the same time. It too sold out in record time.

“The only cabins that went unsold, in fact, were those blocked off for potential quarantine needs,” Fran Golden reported. “Now the line is scrambling to put together an additional around-the-world itinerary starting in 2023.”

The surge in bookings for these months-long cruises can be attributed to a few things, the most salient of which is that after a year of not traveling, people are desperate to get back to it in a big way. Ready to spend anywhere from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands on a room, grounded cruisers are jumping at the opportunity to set sail for an extended period of time in hopes of making up for what was lost in 2020.

The second is that the traditional “cruise crowd,” has been historically comprised of an older demographic — the very same demographic that is now being prioritized for the vaccine. It’s likely they’ll be inoculated in time for Christmas 2021, resulting in a newfound confidence and subsequent uptick in travel bookings for the back half of this year.

Third is that, after the turbulent 2020 cruise season that found many trips cancelled, cut short or stalled at sea, many were left with credit to be used towards a future booking.

Still, it feels like an overly optimistic venture. As it stands now, the CDC is still considering the risk of Covid on cruise ships to be “very high.” And while a lot can change in eight months, it is worth considering that not all countries have the resources to distribute the vaccine at the same rate as the U.S. In effect, the majority of Americans may have received the jab by the end of the year, but that may not be the case of people from other countries along cruise routes, likeBora Bora, the Seychelles and Easter Island. It puts residents of those countries at risk, as experts say that even the inoculated are still capable of carrying and spreading Covid (you can read more about that here). It’s also entirely feasible that those countries won’t even have opened their borders to tourism by the time of departure, meaning the trip being advertised now may not be the trip that comes to fruition come December.

That said, it’s obvious that the travel landscape is changing in favor of longterm stays and extended vacations — one can certainly see the appeal — and after reporting more than $30 billion in losses leading up to this month, it’s understandable that the cruise industry would try following suit.

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