Strong demand drives up cruise prices | Dispatch
Rising demand will continue to drive up cruise prices even as more ships resume operations and the industry recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s the word from William Tatham, vice president of cruise ship and marina operations at the Ports Authority of Jamaica, who said prices “continue to be high as there is strong demand for cruising”, which is aggravated by the reduced number of ships in operation.
With the reopening of Jamaica’s cruise terminals last August, arrivals have steadily increased, although they still lag behind pre-pandemic levels.
Tatham, in response to marine industryrevealed that there were 226 cruise calls between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022. This represents 58% fewer ships compared to the last similar non-pandemic period – August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019 – which saw 532 cruise ships calling at local ports.
Despite this, the popular Carnival Cruise Line, which offers regular Caribbean cruises, recently reported an increase in booking activity following a review of its pre-cruise vaccination and testing requirements.
The new protocols, revealed on August 12, no longer require testing for vaccinated guests on sailings of less than 16 nights and removed the exemption request process for unvaccinated guests, who now only require a negative result on boarding. Carnival noted that these measures, which are subject to local destination regulations, are intended to allow more passengers to sail.
Carnival President Christine Duffy said while the company’s previous projections were solid, the surge in bookings during the generally quiet period in mid-August proves that “pent-up demand for Carnival has not been satisfied and that customers are responding very favorably to our updated protocols”. .
Despite the relaxation of COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements, Tatham said cruise ships continue to implement measures to limit risk to passengers and crew. “With the end of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order, most onboard COVID-related protocols have been removed, although most crews still wear masks and regular hand sanitizing is still encouraged” , did he declare.
Previously, the CDC – the national public health agency of the United States, a big market for cruise passengers – included cruise travel in its list of travel health advisories. Its withdrawal in March marked a reprieve for the industry, which was virtually shut down for more than a year due to pandemic lockdowns and restrictions at the start of COVID-19.
In removing the warning, the CDC notes that the risk of transmission remains, but “travellers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other settings of travel”.
Even with fewer restrictions, would-be cruise passengers will continue to face difficulties with bookings, with no immediate resolution on the horizon. Tatham said this was due to “not enough short-term vessels to meet demand”. He added: “Many older ships have been sold or scrapped due to the impact of the pandemic.”
However, cruising will approach stability, with the industry now in recovery mode and “very strong demand for cruises and many new ships on order”.