Q – We enjoy reading the Q&A on Cruisetruth and we have several questions we’d love to pose about the likely impact of the war in Ukraine, why Windstar does not appear in your ratings and the financial status of the major cruise lines. But it seems that instead of addressing my questions, your editors would prefer helping people who were duly warned about Crystal’s likely failure about one and a half years ago on this very site.
You talked about your concerns, expressed why you wouldn’t book them, and even pointed out that most of the better travel insurers had stopped offering “supplier default” coverage for guests sailing Crystal. You’ve said that Future Credits will likely never be recovered so why all the sympathy for adults who didn’t heed your advice and booked Crystal anyway. Enough about Crystal already. Most of us have lost interest in the topic or the cruise line.
A – Thank you – but we can’t agree. We’re one voice in the cruise wilderness. True, we were warning our readers about Crystal before anyone else and with some degree of detail. But there were many other voices/places in cyberspace that kept pushing the Crystal PR campaign. Virtually all other websites devoted to cruising accept advertising to survive. They are not about to “write off” a major advertiser. We fully understand that Crystal has had, statistically, the most loyal guests of any of the major luxury lines. We were not surprised at the loyalty of Crystal’s guests and their desire to book future cruises.
We will, in the interest of fairness, try to address one of your questions right now regarding the likely impact of the war in Ukraine on the cruise industry. Here is our take on expectations as of today:
- All Baltic cruise stops in St. Petersburg and other Russian coastal ports will immediately be eliminated. In their place, cruise lines will be adding stops in Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish ports where possible. Baltic cruises will not be canceled – port changes will be announced within the next 30 days. Cruise lines operating in the region were waiting and hoping for a short incursion. Those hopes are dashed. The second-largest country in Europe is being attacked by nuclear power. This will not end quickly.
- Potentially, this can have a greater impact on European cruise sales than the Covid threat. No one wants to vacation in a war zone and few Americans know exactly where Ukraine is and which countries border it.
- The major lines on our World’s Top Ten List were planning on increasing their 2022 and 2023 cruise prices by some significant margins given the demand. Many of those plans are now on hold and consumers will soon begin seeing generous booking offers for cruises in northern Europe.
- At the same time, interest in southern Meditteranean cruises will grow and pricing will increase in 2023 by an estimated 5-10%.
- Interest in spring-summer-fall cruises outside of Europe will see sudden bursts of interest at a time when bookings are significantly ahead of prior years.