Until last year.. never had there been a time in my career I thought I would be telling clients NOT to commit to a holiday deposit. It felt like I had spent a lifetime learning Mandarin but now I had to speak Russian- a strangely awkward experience! Well to be fair, last year was a series of awkward experiences so I’m not sure whatI expected. One thing my clients have always learned to expect from me though,is honesty.
2020 saw everyone not just scrambling for cover, but for some semblance of a forward income too and cruise lines were the top of this list. I cannot fault the way cruise lines treated my clients already booked and I’m grateful to partner with so many reputable brands. What I couldn’t wrap my head around was the continual push to book or rebook, it didn’t feel right to expect clients to commit to plans I wouldn’t myself. So the answer to clients wanting to cruise was.. yes but let’s look at this when a clear and safe path forward starts to reveal itself.
I feel this time is upon us for a few reasons;
- Some suppliers are offering some clear and fair terms and conditions around cancellations due to Covid. I believe this shows a commitment towards respectful understanding between client, agent and supplier.
- Whilst the vaccine program hasn’t rolled out anywhere near the rate originally announced- it’s started and we’re all a little closer to this course of action if it’s right for you.
- Our neighbouring countries are doing wonderfully with Covid cases and vaccine rollout, New Zealand most notably
- Cruise lines have adapted to enhanced hygiene policies and procedures which will only serve to enhance safety onboard
- Small ship cruising has found its sea legs in the market place once again, which is a really popular option for those with large crowd concerns.
- We look to be moving beyond State snap border closures which did wreak some havoc on Australian cruise itineraries for some time.
For the most part for me, it’s the flexibility around cancellations that’s the clear winner now and what that’s seeing in the market place.. are bookings as far out as 2023. In fact there are many ships on popular itineraries you can’t even get on until then- 2022 is booked out already! If you’re not keen on pushing the envelope with international deposits – my current suggestion to clients has been to consider Coral Seas Expeditions who have been cruising and also Aurora who will have some itineraries coming out for us here in Australia.
I’ve reached out to an industry mentor who is possibly the most well connected person I know in travel- and he was kind enough to share insight he has learned on what Australians are depositing on now. They are (in order);
- Antarctic cruises
- Round World Cruises (or sectors of)
- Domestic cruises
There is so much navigation ahead in the world of cruising and I can see the professionals being best placed to look at itineraries with clients alongside borders and Covid case numbers to assist in making some solid choices. Of course you know already that your agent is the best person to help you when things don’t goto plan too so involve them from the start!
As my cruising clients hear me say- the itinerary is amazing but the ship choiceHAS to be on point for you and your needs and expectations. If you’re keen to find your perfect nautical match and start looking at some future plans, let’s chat!