With an impressive recovery from the pandemic and the global pause on operations, the cruise industry is witnessing a considerable surge in web traffic. A report by Similarweb indicates a robust increase in interest in cruising.

Year over year, between July 2022 and July 2023, the cruise industry saw website traffic increase by more than 25%, while some cruise lines performed even better.

While major investment banks have echoed a cautious sentiment in the past, there is no denying that the cruise industry has been able to withstand the storm and come out swinging. 

Cruise lines are emerging as one of the most popular modes of travel and leisure in the tourism industry. During and post-pandemic, the consensus was that interest in cruising would not return to 2019 levels until 2025 or even 2027. 

With the sector posting record-breaking numbers during WAVE season, one would expect interest to slow down, but instead, it is on the increase.

Cruise lines are experiencing a noticeable demand, which the traffic to cruise line’s websites is highlighting with a traffic increase of 26.5% year-over-year in July, according to a report from Similarweb.

Cruise Line Traffic Chart (Image Courtesy: Similarweb)

Carnival Corporation continues to dominate web search traffic despite challenges such as hefty debt burdens. The behemoth recorded a remarkable growth of 23.5% in traffic in July. 

While its flagship website, carnival.com, grew 8.4%, some subsidiary brands witnessed even more substantial increases. Traffic to princess.com increased by 53%, and P&O’s pocruises.com surged by 58.8%. 

Beyond Carnival Cruise Lines, the corporation also owns brands Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard, AIDA, Seabourn, P&O UK, P&O Australia, and Costa Cruises.

The Excel-class cruise ships are working their magic and getting rave reviews across Carnival Cruise Line, P&O, AIDA, and Costa, and the Princess Cruises Royal Class is not doing much worse.

Royal Caribbean Group, the second largest cruise company in terms of the number of cruise ships, recorded a 20% traffic growth. Its main site, royalcaribbean.com, grew by 13%, and celebritycruises.com saw an increase of 30%. The limelight, however, was stolen by one of its smaller brands, silversea.com, which charted a growth of 73%.

The traffic increase to these three websites can be attributed to several factors. Royal Caribbean International will launch the most anticipated cruise ship worldwide in the coming year, Icon of the Seas.

Cruise Line Traffic Chart (Image Courtesy: Similarweb)

However, the upcoming launch of Oasis-class cruise ship Utopia of the Seas and the launch of Wonder of the Seas last year hasn’t hurt website traffic either.

The same can be said about Celebrity; it has launched several groundbreaking cruise ships in the last few years, Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, and Celebrity Beyond, and will launch Celebrity Ascent later this year.

The takeover of Silversea by the Royal Caribbean Group is pushing their website traffic to new heights. The massive marketing machine behind the cruise behemoth is indeed working its magic. 

Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings saw an overall traffic boost of 36%. This impressive figure predominantly stemmed from the ncl.com website. The launch of the Prima-Class ships, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, has been pivotal in the company’s web-traffic growth.

Smaller brands in the cruise industry have also been flourishing, proving the expansive growth isn’t limited to the giants.

Cruise Line Traffic Chart (Image Courtesy: Similarweb)

Virgin Voyages registered a 41.8% year-over-year growth in July. Additionally, the performances of Disney Cruise Line were highlighted in Disney’s recent earnings, acting as a silver lining amidst concerns over its media and entertainment sectors.

Here as well, the excitement over Disney Wish, and the upcoming Disney Treasure are fueling traffic to the cruise line’s website.

Amid the surge in web traffic, it’s vital to understand the conversion rates in the cruise industry. Conversion rates are the number of website visitors who end up booking a cruise or making a purchase. 

Various factors come into play here, from brand awareness and website design to industry-specific considerations. The cruise industry has unique challenges with its higher-priced offerings and lengthy decision-making cycle. 

The broader travel sector, such as airlines, hotels, and resorts, usually witnesses a conversion rate between 1-3%. However, this can often dip below 1% for cruise lines.

Photo Credit: Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock

Yet, if we take Carnival Cruise Line as an example, with approximately 14,000,000 website visitors in July alone, even a conversion rate lower than 1% would still be seen as a hugely successful number. 

While the digital realm is just one dimension of the cruise business, its importance cannot be understated. Maintaining digital interest remains crucial, with summer bookings critical to populating the summer berths and piquing interest for later sailings.

The demand for cruises is undeniable. The growth of 26.5% in web traffic year-over-year reflects a promising future for the cruise industry. Something that not many people would have expected just two years ago.

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