The past few weeks have seen a "resurgence in cruise demand, with travellers eager to resume vacations at sea," according to new research from Expedia Group, in partnership with Environics Analytics.
The new data, released Dec. 1, reveals the characteristics and preferences of post-pandemic cruise travellers between mid-2021 and early 2022, indicating that there has been more than a 20 per cent month on month increase in demand in Canadian cruise searches for travel in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022.
Additional demographics research by Environics Analytics measured a sample of approximately 3,000 post-pandemic "early adopters," defined as having booked trips after March 1, 2021 that depart between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
Findings revealed that passengers making up the largest group have a propensity to be upper-middle income Americans aged 65 or older, an encouraging sign for the cruise industry as its key customer segment is clearly eager to return to the seas.
The Environics Analytics research also revealed significant differences in the characteristics of U.S. versus Canadian passengers.
The data showed that there was a higher percentage of total Canadian passengers ages 30-49 (29%) cruising in Q4 2021 compared to the US (22%) for the same time period. In addition, nearly half of Canadian passengers in Q4 2021 (46%) have children at home, compared to only 21% of US passengers, suggesting that cruises appeal to a slightly younger, family-based audience for Canadians who may feel cruise is a safer option than other types of vacation at the moment.
Expedia Group search data for Canada also showed that the Caribbean (40%), the Bahamas (5%), Mexico (5%), and Europe (5%) accounted for nearly 75% of all Canadian searches.
In a year-over-year comparison, the Caribbean remains the most sought-after destination for North American cruise travellers.
The search data also revealed that search windows have shortened since the travel restrictions have been lifted.
Around 25% of Canadian cruise travellers’ search windows are less than 30 days, 20% are between one-to-two months, 15% are between two-to-three months, 30% are between three-to-six months and 10% are for six or more months.
The two-to-three month search window, in particular, has seen an upsurge of demand with more than 140% of growth within a month-over-month period.
Interestingly, 85% of the searches for Alaska have a more than three months search window and 70% of the searches for Europe have a more than three months search window, indicating a rising interest in longer duration cruise trips.
The search window is even longer on the year-to-date basis with approximately 85% of travellers beginning the search more than two months in advance and 75% begin three months in advance.
“At Expedia Group, we’re pleased to see the increased desire for cruises post-pandemic,” said Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia Cruises. “Travellers are eager to sail again as too are our cruise partners. We can see that warm destinations are topping the list once again as people look to relax and recharge after a challenging two years. These insights will be critical in helping our cruise partners assess demand, ensuring the necessary processes are in place to continuing to provide the safe and stellar services cruise travelers expect in today’s evolved landscape."
"At Expedia Cruises, we’re always looking for ways to support our partners in the industry, from clear communications on our platform, to a wide range of choice for our diverse group of cruise customers to book, whether online, in-store, or on the phone.”