Perhaps as proof of just how popular cruise vacations are, if not the resiliency of the cruise industry as a whole, Costa Cruises North America this week posted its highest sales numbers of 2012. Indicating a business-as-usual feel to bookings, the remarkable results speak for themselves but beg a few questions:
Is this a case of a job well done on the part of Costa Cruises and the cruise industry in the wake of the Costa Concordia grounding?
Does the traveling public have a short attention span?
Are the Costa Cruises North America sales results reflective of all Costa Cruises sales?
Less than six months after the grounding of Costa Concordia, what many called a “death blow” to the cruise industry, June bookings for Costa Cruises North America represented a 32 percent increase over figures for June 2011, said Costa in a statement.
That’s significant but about as meaty a statistic as saying river cruising is up 50%. Yes, river cruises may be up 50% but their ships carry 200 people. To compare percentage growth of river cruising where ships carry 200 passengers, to ocean cruising with ships that carry thousands is playing a bit footloose and fancy free with the numbers.
“Our recovery is well under way, and we are ahead of where we expected to be at this point in 2012,” said Scott Knutson, CTC, vice president of sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America. “While effective marketing and strategic pricing have played a part in generating our strong bookings, we believe that they also are a result of increased consumer interest and renewed confidence in the Costa brand.”
Costa Cruises also reported that Monday, July 16, was the best single day of bookings of the entire year for Costa Cruises North America. Ok but does that mean normally we sell 5 cruises a day and on July 16th we sold 7? No meat.
“We are grateful to all of the travel agents and our key accounts who continue to support us as we work through our recovery, and we’re very encouraged by these results,” said Knutson.
The grounding of Costa Concordia was an event that the world will not soon forget. It was almost the event everyone who makes a living via the cruise industry fears more than any other. After the grounding of Costa Concordia, the cruise industry took a good hard look at safety. Bringing together the best minds in the business, an all-star panel of experts reviewed standard procedures in place on cruise ships. What they found was no surprise; a system that exceeded the legal requirements for operation of a cruise ship, with flaws.
Still, steps were taken to bump up the focus on safety industry-wide which should have renewed confidence in cruise vacations as a viable, safe travel option. Perhaps this increase in Costa sales, albeit limited to North America, is indeed a good sign that travelers get it: Cruise vacations are safe, for the most part. If so, the cruise industry did a good job handling the Costa Concordia crisis, addressing concerns and moving on.
That alone would be a huge, meaty win.
Fickr photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell