As the world recovered from the pandemic, cruise lines were among the last travel-related businesses to get back on their feet. While hotels and airlines could continue operating in 2020 and 2021, cruise lines had to work hard to regain their market share after being closed down for a significant amount of time.
However, a recent report by SimilarWeb, an online market intelligence company, suggests that things are looking up for the industry. The report shows a significant increase in web traffic for major cruise lines in the first two months of 2023 compared to 2022. This indicates strong pent-up demand for cruises that could drive higher bookings in the coming months.
Virgin Voyages Seas Growth Surge to 318%
The impressive increase in web traffic for all seven leading cruise lines in January, as revealed by Similarweb’s data, is a testament to the importance of Wave Season and the effectiveness of the promotions and marketing strategies of cruise lines in driving bookings from January until March.
With Virgin Voyages leading the way with a remarkable 318% increase year-over-year and a 46% rise compared to December, the other cruise lines followed suit, with Holland America Line seeing a growth of 117%, NCL with 107%, Royal Caribbean with 103%, Celebrity Cruises with 92%, Princess Cruises with 87%, and Carnival Cruise Line with 66%.
Overall, the 28% increase in web traffic growth year-over-year in January for the group of seven leading cruise lines is a positive sign for the industry. It indicates that the industry is on its way to recovery.
Carnival Leads Traffic, While Royal Caribbean Takes More Bookings
While Carnival leads in web traffic, Royal Caribbean is the leading cruise line in converted visits, or website visits that lead to a booking.
This data shows that five leading cruise operators, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, and Princess, saw a 55% growth in bookings through their websites in January 2023, year-over-year.
The increase at Royal Caribbean, in particular, was fueled by Wave Season and the massive media campaign surrounding the reveal of their newest ship Icon of the Seas. This led to a remarkable 125% growth in bookings through the website in January, indicating a strong interest in the brand and its offerings.
Carnival Cruise Line came in second with 32k converted website visits, indicating a growth of 49%, followed by NCL with 14.5k converted visits, showing an increase of 23%.
Looking at the share of traffic as an indication of market share, Carnival Cruise Line leads the group with a 30% share of traffic, followed by Royal Caribbean at 24% and NCL at 15%. Despite having the smallest percentage of traffic at 5%, Virgin has more than doubled its traffic share from 2% in January 2022.
Numbers Show Demand is Real
The data from the report provides solid proof that pent-up demand for cruising is indeed a real thing. For the past two years, we have heard industry leaders like Michael Bayley at Royal Caribbean and Frank Del Rio at Norwegian Cruise Line talk about this pent-up demand, and the report’s findings back up their claims.
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Despite the global pause in cruise operations, the report reveals that consumers are still interested in cruising. The surge in web traffic for all seven major cruise lines in the first two months of 2023 shows that there is significant pent-up demand for cruises, which is driving higher traffic.
This is particularly encouraging during Wave Season, which is the period when consumers typically book their annual cruises. As the world has returned to normal, consumers’ enthusiasm for cruising is as strong as ever, boding well for the industry’s future bookings during Wave Season and beyond.