While the cruise industry is still working on its plan to return to service, everyone with a stake in the industry is waiting with hope.  It’s been a long 10 months, but we are hopeful, and there’s good reason to be.

Carnival Corporation previously announced that 18 of its less efficient ships would be retired, allowing the company to be leaner and more efficient.  Carnival Corporation CEO, Arnold Donald, tells Seatrade Cruise News that they’re focused on restarting operations in U.S. waters and hope to have the full fleet operational by the end of 2021.  Although it might dovetail with the start of the European season, Carnival continues working on meeting the CDC’s requirements to resume service.  Arnold Donald states “we want the freedom to be able to sail anywhere.”

January signals the start of the industry’s wave season, a campaign traditionally held during the first quarter of the new year when cruise lines focus their resources on confirming as many bookings for the year as possible.  It’s a great opportunity for guests to lock in some of the best deals of the year.   A successful wave season generally signals a profitable year, and while this wave season isn’t traditional, there are tons of great deals being offered.

Seatrade Cruise News reports that “Carnival bookings for the second half of 2021 are within the historical range, while bookings for the first half of 2022 are ahead of 2019,” but it’s not just Carnival.  Royal Caribbean’s CEO Richard Fain reports “huge pent up demand” and MSC, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and many European brands report robust bookings well into 2022 and 2023.

Seabourn has announced a new series of seven-day cruises between Juneau, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, combining Sitka and Ketchikan with the Inian Islands and Alert Bay, a small First Nation village on Cormorant Island.  For glacier lovers, this is the trip to take.  Voyages will include Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier or Tracy/Endicott Arm, and will offer expedition-style experiences led by the onboard expedition team. Seabourn’s 2021 Alaska season is now open for sale. 

Holland America’s “Vitamin Sea” itineraries for the 2021-2022 season offer 7-21 day cruises, all sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.  With cruises like Bahamas Sampler, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Tropical Caribbean and Partial Panama Canal it’s pretty easy to imagine these itineraries selling quickly.

New cruise lines launching operations have continued to move forward with those plans.  Both Atlas Ocean Voyages and Swan Hellenic have opened offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and hired executive and key positions in marketing, sales and operations.  A number of these hires are veterans of several cruise lines with a great depth of experience and expertise.

Further encouragement comes in the form of ships starting to ramp up the number of crew on ships in layup.  It’s far from a full crew complement but there is movement toward increasing the number of crew onboard, and that’s a clear sign that the industry expects to return to service sooner rather than later.

So yes!  We’re hopeful!  We have good reason to be.  Things are moving.  Things are happening.  Good things!

This post was written by cruise expert, Shannon McKee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.