You won’t believe how far in advance people are booking cruises these days
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Thinking about booking a cruise departing in the next few months in the hopes it’ll really happen?
If you do, you’ll be bucking the trend.
After a year of seemingly endless cruise cancellations, cruise fans increasingly are looking further out on the calendar when scheduling their next voyages — way further out.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.
In a research report issued earlier this month, Truist Securities analyst C. Patrick Scholes said the cruise “booking window” — the number of days in advance of sailings on average that cruisers are booking trips — had soared to an all-time record of 365 days.
That’s up from just 210 days a year ago, he said.
“Basically, customers are booking an entire year out,” Scholes noted.
Cruises traditionally have been booked far further in advance than other sorts of travel, with an average booking window of six months or more being common. But to have the average booking for a cruise be a full-year away is unprecedented, Scholes suggested.
Scholes credits the widening booking window in part to strong pent-up demand for cruises in the wake of the shutdown of most cruising for a year. Cruise fans who missed their trips in 2020 and already have mostly given up on 2021 are now looking ahead to 2022 and beyond and snapping up cabins with gusto.
To that point, Truist Securities data shows the pace of 2022 bookings for all types of cruises is 30% to 35% ahead of where it normally would be at this stage in the booking cycle. And a breakdown by region shows even bigger increases in some destinations.
Scholes said bookings for 2022 sailings in Europe and Alaska are up around 100% vs. where they normally would be at this point in the booking cycle. Bookings for Caribbean sailings in 2022, by contrast, are relatively flat to up about 5% as compared to past years.
Europe and Alaska, notably, are more expensive cruise destinations than the Caribbean.
“Pent-up demand abounds, especially for higher-end travel,” Scholes said.
Scholes suggested the widening booking window was being driven in part by older travelers who typically book higher-end cruise products in places like Europe. Higher-end cruises are traditionally booked further in advance than mass-market cruises.
“What has stood out to us in our conversations (with travel industry executives) and booking intelligence around demand is that higher-end/luxury bookings and sales are up substantially more than for mass-market cruises,” Scholes said. “As one very large seller of cruises told us, luxury booking volumes are 3x that of mass-market.”
Scholes suggested that senior travelers who have recently been vaccinated and have been missing out on travel for more than a year now have a new “have vaccine will travel” attitude.
The demand for further-out itineraries has prompted several cruise lines to open their 2023 and even 2024 sailings for bookings sooner than originally planned.
Luxury line Crystal Cruises, for instance, in August opened bookings for its smallest vessel, Crystal Esprit, all the way through early 2024.
Oceania, for instance, just reported the single best booking day in the company’s history after opening its “tropics and exotics” itineraries for late 2022 and early 2023. The collection of 127 itineraries across Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, the Caribbean, South America, and the South Pacific opened for bookings on March 3.
Oceania is a relatively upscale line that caters heavily to older travelers.
“The tremendous wave of bookings we saw on the day we opened our new 2022 and 2023 itineraries for sale underscores the extraordinary demand for long and exotic cruise vacations,” Oceania president and CEO Bob Binder said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Upscale travelers are eager to explore the world once more and are booking farther in advance to ensure their travel dreams are fulfilled.”
To satisfy demand from cruisers who are booking further in advance, the line said this month it would open its spring, summer and fall 2023 Europe and North America voyages ahead of time. They’ll be live in the company’s reservation computers by September.
Already, Oceania and sister line Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which specializes in luxury voyages, are 40% booked for all of 2022, the top executive at the lines’ parent company said in February during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured image by NAN728/Shutterstock
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.