According to small ship cruising specialist, Cruise Traveller, post-COVID cruising shows signs of attracting more people, drawn to the appeal of boutique, river and expedition ships carrying less than 500 passengers.
In fact, Cruise Traveller managing director, Craig Bowen, believes small ships will play a vital role in rebuilding trust in cruising.
“In the years ahead, travellers will increasingly value what ships don’t have rather than what they do 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.
“When cruising returns, more people will seek the space, freedom, simplicity, ease, tranquility, 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 says this trend was evident even before the advent of COVID-19. “[After the pandemic subsides] the popularity of smaller vessels will accelerate and the recent, record rate of new builds of smaller ships will gather pace to meet the surging demand.
“By nature, small ships fill up fast so we always recommend advanced planning and early bookings, even for 2022 and beyond.”
Cruise Traveller’s bookings for 2021 product to the end of June, 2020, were up 31 per cent up on the same period last year for 2020 sailings, which Bowen maintains highlights the resilient and growing demand for small ship adventures.
“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.
“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.”
IMAGE: Arctic small ship cruising – Cruise Traveller/Dennis Minty