- Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said many travelers are eager to shell out extra cash.
- During the pandemic, Americans saved $1.6 trillion and now many are looking to vacation.
- Despite bad press surrounding cruises, several trips have sold out within days of being announced.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said many people who were cooped up during the pandemic are eager to spend extra cash on luxury travel perks.
She told TIME that the company’s bookings have reached 2019 levels.
“We find that they’re spending a lot of money on board because they just want to enjoy themselves. They want to go to the casino. They want to get a massage. They want to go to a specialty restaurant,” she said, adding that she agrees that a return to big spending will come “roaring back.”
“People are just going to go for it because it’s been quite a long time since they’ve been able to.”
During the pandemic, Americans saved an estimated $1.6 trillion, according to data from the Commerce Department. As the vaccination rate increases and the economy continues to reopen, more people are looking to spend their savings on vacations this year, with more Americans planning to travel than ever before. A trend report from online-rental hub VRBO found that 65% of people in the US plan to travel more in 2021 than they did before the pandemic started.
For months, cruise industry executives have been banking on pent-up demand from travelers to help fuel the industry’s recovery. Earlier this year, several cruise lines sold out within days of announcing new cruises. Silversea and Oceania broke sales records when two of their 2023 world cruises sold out the day they opened for sale. In April, Cruiseline.com found that of the 11,000 travelers it surveyed, 93% said they’d consider going on a cruise in 2021 or 2022.
While few industries have been hit harder by the pandemic than the cruise industry, Lutoff-Perlo said the company is in a position to bounce back from renewed interest. Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity, reported a loss of $5.8 billion in 2020. After suspending operations in March 2020, the company estimated it burned through $250 million to $290 million a month in cash that year.
Celebrity Cruises is planning to launch its first cruise from a US port on June 26.
The CEO said despite all the bad press surrounding cruise COVID-19 infection rates during the onset of the pandemic, Celebrity Cruises is working to welcome travelers back to their normal lives. Earlier this month, one of the company’s cruise ships, Celebrity Millennium, had two travelers test positive for coronavirus. The cruise, which sailed from St. Maarten on June 5, was the first big cruise ship to allow American passengers who were fully vaccinated.
The company’s marketing is focused on a return to normal, rather than the various COVID-19 safety measures the company has put in place, the CEO said.
“People want to get back to traveling, people want to get back to doing the things that they haven’t been able to do in a really long time,” she told TIME. “We are appealing to the place that the consumer is and their mindset right now is they want to get back to reconnecting with their families, to reconnecting with other people, to reconnecting with the planet and traveling again.”