“There is optimism combined with a realistic and pragmatic approach knowing that the challenges of COVID-19 will remain,” Sture Myrmell, president of Carnival Australia answered, when asked about the mood in the Australian market.
“However,” he added, “it is also fair to say that as progress continues towards effective vaccines and treatments, the emphasis here and elsewhere is directed to when cruising will resume, not if it will return. We are also mindful of the fact that the decision to resume cruising is not made by us in isolation and that it will involve governments, authorities and guests, especially guests as to when they will again feel confident to gather.
“A return to service will also be done in consultation with other Carnival Corporation sister brands.”
Myrmell told Cruise Industry News that from their interaction with guests and travel agent partners and from their activities in marketing and social media, there remains a reservoir of support for cruise holidays and that many guests are keen to cruise again when the time is right.
That people want to cruise again should not come as a surprise, he added, noting the double-digit increases in passenger numbers in Australia over the last decade.
Australia has the highest market penetration rate in the world with more than one million passengers a year taking ocean cruises.
Thus, the Carnival brands in Australia, P&O Cruises, Princess and Carnival, are maintaining their market presence by communicating directly with guests and via travel agent partners.
“The ships might not be sailing, but we can certainly tap into their anticipation for our return and keep cruising front and center of their minds,” Myrmell added. “Social media has been a boon in keeping our guests close through such challenging times.”
Meanwhile, the brands are taking bookings with what he called a flexible booking policy, deposit and final payments that are consumer friendly in the event cruises have to be cancelled.
For 2021 and 2022, P&O Cruises will continue to sail the Pacific Explorer, which will be joined by the Pacific Adventure, the former Golden Princess, and the Pacific Encounter, the former Star Princess.
The Pacific Aria and the Pacific Dawn are set to leave the fleet next year.
The Carnival Cruise Line brand will be sailing the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit when service resumes.
Princess has announced a five-ship line-up in Australia. The Coral Princess will homeport in Brisbane and the Royal Princess and Emerald Princess in Sydney. In addition, the Sapphire Princess will sail from Melbourne, and the Pacific Princess will be in Australia as well.