Tui River Cruises has launched after an 18-month pause due to the pandemic. Tui MD Chris Hackney

Marella Cruises MD Chris Hackney: ‘Booking patterns are changing’

Marella Cruises UK MD Chris Hackney explains why now is the time to shout about cruising and outlines how booking patterns are changing.

The main thing that has stuck with me during this time is how the entire cruise industry came together through a really challenging period.

I do wholeheartedly believe cruise will come back bigger and better. Some people may believe cruising should be the last form of travel to return, yet the excitement to explore is back and when you look at the success of our domestic sailings and the feedback we’ve received after announcing our future developments, cruising has a very bright future.

It goes without saying that the industry has looked slightly different. Marella Cruises sailed British waters throughout the summer, which proved extremely popular with our customers – old and new – so much so that we added a second ship to the programme to manage demand. This was the confirmation we were all hopeful for – people were missing sailing the open waters and exploring.

Following this, and after a huge effort from the cruise industry to encourage the government to reconsider restrictions on international cruising, we were able to then restart flying our customers overseas to Corfu to join our Greek sailings, making Marella Cruises the first British cruise line to operate fly-cruises again.

New cruise booking patterns

So now here we all are, sailing again, differently but confidently. After times of such change, it’s even more important that we continue to listen to feedback from our customers and understand how they feel and how that will impact their travel habits.

It’s also important we show those who may not have cruised, the wonderful reasons why they should. We’re confident that many people are ready to see the world again, and cruising remains a truly incredible way to do that.

We can see anecdotally that audience behaviour and booking patterns have changed and I believe they will continue to do so and so staying close to these trends is imperative.

We’re seeing more people book their cruise online compared to a retail store, therefore we must ensure that we are providing a level of information online that both excites and reassures our customers.

I think we could see an increase in solo traveller bookings but also multi-generational travel. While two opposing sides of travel, some may crave time alone to explore and reconnect with themselves, and others will want to make lifetime memories with their loved ones old and young. The cruise industry can provide those travel experiences with the breadth and choice that it offers.

We’re proud and excited to be in a position where we can welcome a fifth ship to the fleet – Marella Voyager, as well as adding USA itineraries to our summer 2023 programme.

People’s desire to explore is stronger than ever, something we’ve seen reflected in bookings for summer and winter 2022 seasons. We’re confident customers are going fuel their exploration and adventurous side on our new itineraries.

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