Small will be the new big in the post-COVID-19 cruise market, according to Cruise Traveller’s managing director.
Craig Bowen reckons small ships will play a vital role in rebuilding trust in cruising as clients will begin to pay more attention to what a cruise doesn’t have.
“Smaller ships don’t have crowds, congestion, confusion, queues, delays in boarding and disembarkation, lots of noise, casinos, contests for deck chairs, large group excursions or a bewildering array of activities, shops and charge-on-entry restaurants,” he said.
“When cruising returns, more people will seek the space, freedom, simplicity, ease, tranquillity, intimacy, friendliness, eco-sustainability and personal service that smaller ships offer as well as the advantage of accessing smaller, more remote ports and sailing closer to wild scenery and wildlife.”
Bowen said this trend was beginning to emerge before COVID-19 and he expects the conditions of the global pandemic will only make it stronger.
Cruise Traveller’s bookings for 2021 small ship cruises were up 31 per cent in June, compared with the same period last year for 2020 sailings.
Bowen said Cruise Traveller had grown rapidly over 17 years, representing 53 boutique, luxury, river and expedition cruising operators around the world.
“When enhanced, onboard health protocols are ratified, river and expedition ships will be the first to start sailing, with a handful already re-commencing operations around Australia and overseas,” he said.
“Before COVID-19, ships were getting bigger and bigger but in coming times, more people will see small as the new big in cruising. For many, the smaller the vessel and fewer the passengers, the better.
“Small ships will be crucial to rebuilding trust in cruising, generally, but post-COVID, more people will appreciate the many benefits of boutique cruise holidays and this will prove a big boost to the small-ship industry.”