2019 cruise numbers might not return until 2023 or beyond: David Selby
After the global shutdown in mid-March 2020, the first ships began carrying passengers in July of last year, and momentum is building. But lower occupancy rates and other uncertainties make it difficult to predict 2021 numbers, Selby told Seatrade World Cruise today.
“I don’t think we know for 2021 until the middle of next year,” he told the World Cruise Tourism Summit on Monday.
Disposals of vessels balanced by new berths
The pandemic has fueled ship eliminations, most notably by Carnival Corp. & plc. Counting all of the lower berths that went out – and assuming these were weeklong cruises – Selby’s calculation would suggest the equivalent passenger volume would be 1.6m, or roughly 1.25m. that of the American market.
However, the capacity of the new berths stood at 27,500 lower berths, recovering berths lost in divestitures, he added.
Cruisers from 6.5 m to 7 m?
Selby noted that vessel occupancy is currently around 50% to 60%. According to Bermello Ajamil & Partners, by the end of 2021, 75% of the lower berths worldwide will be in service, although not all berths will be occupied.
Selby has suggested 2021 could have 6.5-7 million passengers, but he doesn’t present that as a forecast because there are so many variables.
The fact that cruises were able to operate in Alaska and the United Kingdom will increase the figures for 2021. Some lines departing from the United Kingdom have attracted new customers because it is difficult for holidaymakers to travel abroad, which makes it difficult for holidaymakers to travel abroad. bodes well for the future.
The good news, Selby added, “We know the cruise line protocols work.” There were no major epidemics on board the ships. The lines take a very cautious approach.
Not at 2019 levels until 2023, or later?
“Everything is very encouraging,” Selby summed up, but with big increases slated for 2022, “I don’t think we’ll be back to 2019 levels by at least 2023, and maybe longer.”
Australia is still closed, and the China cruise will return more gradually than hoped. New COVID variants may emerge to shake consumer confidence, and the regulatory environment is uncertain.
In 2022, 50,000 new low berths are expected to enter the market. At full occupancy, that would add 2.5 million passengers, Selby said, and then an additional 50 new ships are planned after that, between 2023 and 2027.
“What goes down must go up”
“What goes down must come up,” he joked.
‘Overall a steady return beckons, but [cruising] will come back. [It’s been a] slow and painful reintroduction, but the lines are to be commended for making this possible.
Selby began his presentation by recounting the strong historical growth of the cruise.
Pre-COVID forecast was nearly 44 million cruisers in 2027
Some 17.8 million passengers were transported worldwide in 2009, reaching 29.7 million in 2019, a significant growth of 67%. In the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, the industry grew by a third (7.4 million passengers), driven by more new construction and growth in China.
The future annual percentage increases predicted before COVID were impressive. New builds ordered through 2027 would have brought market capacity to just under 44 million, according to Selby.
Extrapolating on the existing order book (which runs to 2027), Selby said the number of passengers could have been estimated at 48.5 million in 2031, almost double since 2016.
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