As we approach the summer of 2023, the cruise industry shows no signs of a slowdown in business.
Recently released internet search numbers on cruise lines show that the interest in taking a cruise is increasing significantly. After a solid start to the year, with record booking numbers in the first three months during WAVE Season, the craving for cruise vacations shows no signs of slowing down. Instead, it’s growing significantly.
Online Cruise Searches Soaring High
With nearly all cruise lines showing record bookings during the first months of the year, one would think that interest in cruises would start showing some slowing down. However, the exact opposite is the case, with a recent report showing just how much interest there is.
A report on Similarweb shows that web searches for cruises have seen a tremendous surge, a trend that’s been building since the industry’s successful restart in 2021-2022.
With record occupancy numbers already being reported and interest increasing, the cruise industry will likely sail past its previous guest records set in 2019. The report highlights that more people have been visiting cruise line websites this year, with a 15.6% increase overall.
Even the industry’s newest addition, Virgin Voyages, is enjoying record numbers, with an incredible 104.8% growth in the number of visits to its website compared to last year. The company welcomed 2.2 million website visits in May alone, a 20% rise compared to April.
Established brands Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line also posted encouraging numbers. Celebrity Cruises saw a 36.8% increase from last year, up to 5 million visits. Norwegian Cruise Lines saw an uptick of 33%, welcoming 8.9 million visits.
The cruise industry’s biggest players, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, also saw an increase. Carnival, the industry’s biggest brand, received 14.4 million visits, a 5.9% increase compared to last year. Royal Caribbean recorded a 4.5% increase from the previous year, with 13.6 million visits.
Surprisingly, the increase in traffic to Norwegian Cruise Line is coming at the expense of Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. This could be due to Norwegian Prima‘s positive reviews since its launch last year.
Rising Popularity Fueling Interest
Another key takeaway is that more people search for cruise lines by name when searching online — a sign of growing popularity.
Virgin Voyages led the pack with a 56% increase in name-specific searches, followed by Norwegian and Celebrity, which saw an increase of 26.8% and 23.6%, respectively. On the other hand, both Carnival and Royal Caribbean reported fewer people searching for them by name over the last year.
Certain cruise lines are getting more website visits because they are becoming more well-known and liked, possibly thanks to successful advertising campaigns or, as is the case with Virgin, rave reviews.
While cruise lines invest heavily in paid traffic through marketing campaigns and ads, the increase for the smaller players is genuine interest in the brands.
While the traffic increase has declined somewhat, Royal Caribbean spent the most on ads in May, following a massive marketing campaign for Icon of the Seas. Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, and Carnival Cruise Line follow at some distance.
Even though Carnival and Royal Caribbean have seen fewer people visiting their websites compared to previous months, they remain dominant players, pulling in nearly as many visitors as all the other competitors combined.
The impressive growth of Virgin Voyages, Celebrity, and Norwegian Cruise Line signifies a shift in the industry, showcasing their successful marketing efforts, robust cruise offerings, and hype around new ships such as Celebrity Apex, three ships for Virgin Voyages, and Norwegian Prima.
As we head into the summer of 2023, the cruise industry looks at a promising season and what could be a record year. Something that all cruise lines will welcome after the disastrous period between 2020 and 2022.