Early cruise bookers and past passengers are snapping up capacity on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ ships for 2022 with inventory sold so far on the luxury line approaching the 50% level.
In an update to media yesterday in Sydney, Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, said there continues to be “huge pent-up demand” for luxury cruising, with the company seeing record numbers of bookings for 2022 and 2023.
Reiterating his comments to LATTE last month, Odell said he believes there is “quite a lot of FOMO” [fear of missing out] among cruisers due to the shortage of availability. That shortage is driven by guests rebooking after their planned cruisers in 2020 and 2021 were scuppered by the coronavirus cruise pause.
“I think the luxury traveller in particular has developed this FOMO mentality when they’re starting to look at their plans for the future, for next year.”
Odell said Regent has just recorded its largest ‘wave season’ (the period from January to March) ever, with a focus on sailings in 2022 and up to May 2023.
In 2023, Regent Seven Seas will also launch its third of three Explorer Class of ships, a sister-ship to Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor. More details on the yet-to-be-named ship are forthcoming.
Trends show the booking window globally is moving “further and further out”, with customers locking in higher category suites, longer voyages and spending more.
“45%+ of the inventory is already sold. You can see therefore why people are really planning and looking to book,” he remarked. Thirty percent of bookings taken are new to brand guests, with Odell suggesting more regular cruise customers are looking for ships that offer a “smaller environment” with more space. (See LATTE‘s previous article on RSSC’s “Unrivalled Space” campaign focus here.)
Cruise fare increases
On its website, the luxury cruise line is also encouraging customers to urgently secure their bookings before the end of this month, with fares “increasing across all destinations on 1 April 2021”.
Odell told LATTE the demand for luxury travel, especially cruise, is very strong for coming years.
“It proves the loyalty and resilience of customers. 30 million people took a cruise in 2019 who were then unable to take a cruise in 2020 due to the pause in cruising.
“With surging demand and high load factors for 2022 sailings, we expect pricing increases as voyages continue to fill up. We are urging customers to consider our special value offers and sign-up to take advantage of our low deposits,” he added.
Odell said he remains optimistic of a phased resumption of big ship ocean cruising in local waters in the second half of 2021, but believes the season is being dictated “a bit” by what the government is saying about air travel.
“There are still hurdles, but I think it’s really encouraging to see what’s happening around the world already.”
“400,000 people already have taken a cruise in the last 8 months and you see very successful operations starting up, in Singapore for example, Europeans have already been operating cruising up there, the UK is having a restart for Brits from May, and even in the last few weeks there are start-ups in the Bahamas, Bermuda and St. Martin.”
“We are well on track now, and each start up has proven that cruises can be operated successfully even in a COVID world,” Odell said.
“As far as we’re concerned, we are still working with government agencies and ports around the world, to get to the place where we can effectively and efficiently and safely start up the business. When you look at what’s happening around the world in other places and how it’s successfully begun I don’t think that it’s far away.”
Seven Seas Explorer still on track to debut down under
In Australia, Odell said despite CLIA’s best efforts at working with local governments “we still don’t have progress to a point of a start date”. Seven Seas Explorer is scheduled to arrive in Sydney on 19 December 2021 after a 12-month delay caused by the pandemic.
“We ought to lean towards what’s happening, especially in Singapore, around the protocols, because I think that start-up can happen safely and that’s what we’ve been trying to voice to the government here in Australia.
“I think it’s still a bit off, but we would certainly hope that the summer season next year could be the starting point,” Odell remarked with optimism.
“We believe when this passes, cruising will be the safest place to travel,” Odell said, adding “we’ll have onboard hospitals, we’ll have medical staff on your doorstep”.
Boarding processes at ports will also be streamlined, with guests uploading ID photos, credit card details online, and viewing safety videos before they arrive, eliminating queues and groups congregating in any one place.
30 years of Regent Seven Seas Cruises
In 2022, Regent will also celebrate its 30th anniversary with 30 special voyages offering a number of benefits, particularly to past guests.
Among the 30 Year celebration line-up is the annual Reunion Cruise on 15 July 2022 that will be accompanied by President and CEO Jason Montague. The 15-night voyage from London to Reykjavik aboard Seven Seas Voyager that will also include an overland program with Montague at Ashford Castle in Galway including visits to Castletown House, Kylemore Abbey and Sligo.
Member of RSSC’s loyalty program are being offered Double Seven Seas Society savings on this departure.
Lead image: In Sydney at the Park Hyatt are Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Steve Odell, SVP and MD Asia Pacific and Lise Pile, VP and GM, Australia/New Zealand.