The cruise industry is making a big splash in 2024, as Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas – the largest cruise ship in the world – makes its maiden voyage on January 27. And while much has been made about the size of the ship, its timing is just as important.
The Icon of the Seas is a sign of how fast things can change. Demand and excitement for cruising is unrecognizable to what it was just three years ago, when cruise lines across the globe were struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Squaremouth dives into the details about the largest cruise ship on the seas, how we got here, and how the Icon of the Seas may be a symbol of what’s to come within the industry.
What Does a Record-Breaking Ship Look Like?
The sheer size of the Icon of the Seas is difficult to comprehend. To help, here’s a quick breakdown:
- Length: The ship measures 1,198 feet long, which is roughly three and a half football fields long and takes an estimated 15 minutes to walk from one end of the ship to the other.
- Height: There are 20 total decks onboard the ship, with 18 of them reserved for guests. For context, its height is equal to that of an 18-story building.
- Capacity: Icon of the Seas can hold roughly 7,600 passengers at maximum capacity, and is broken down into eight different “neighborhoods.”
- Entertainment: The ship is home to more than 40 bars and restaurants, 7 pools, 6 record-breaking waterslides, a rock-climbing wall, 55-foot waterfall, bowling alley, and so much more.
Building Back Cruising Excitement
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise ships were considered a hotspot for outbreaks. Squaremouth data reveals that demand for cruise travel insurance policies dropped more than 57% due to Covid. A decrease in demand coupled with global travel regulations caused many cruise lines to suspend operations, downsize, sell ships, or close up shop entirely.
However, when the Icon of the Seas opened bookings October, 2022, Royal Caribbean revealed that the company saw its single largest booking day in its 53-year history. If nothing else, this was a sign that the public was excited and ready to cruise again.
By the time 2023 came around, Travel Weekly reported that booking volumes “had eclipsed 2019 levels.” Squaremouth’s data confirms this notion, with travel insurance policy sales for cruising more than doubling from 2019 to 2024.
Cruising Outlook for 2024
Right now is the hot time to buy cruises for 2024. Wave Season is the period at the beginning of a calendar year, typically January through March, where cruise lines offer their best deals. This is typically the period where many travelers make their bookings for later in the year.
Squaremouth has already seen a flurry of activity within the cruise industry that paints a positive picture for parties involved.
Cruise Bookings Are On Track to Surpass 2023
The Icon of the Seas might not be the only thing breaking records in 2024. Squaremouth data reveals that cruise travel insurance policy sales for next year are already more than a third of 2023’s total, which was a record-breaking year itself. Currently, 25% of travelers buying travel insurance are taking a cruise.
Rising Travel Costs Could Benefit Cruises
As part of Squaremouth’s 2024 travel outlook, it was predicted that 2024 will be the most expensive year on record for travelers. Rising prices could encourage travelers to opt for more affordable, budget-friendly travel alternatives. Cruises, especially those booked during Wave Season, can be cheaper than booking comparable flights, hotels, and excursions.
Cruisers Will Still Be Concerned With Health and Safety
We recently polled more than 13,000 customers about their 2024 travel concerns. When asked about their primary reason for purchasing travel insurance, a resounding 60% of respondents said it was to protect against injuries and illnesses when traveling. This is likely due to the potentially high out-of-pocket expenses that may come from receiving medical attention abroad.
Given past outbreaks relating to cruises, we recommend trip protection that includes Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation benefits. Specifically, we recommend cruise insurance plans that feature at least $100,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $250,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.
Are You Taking a Cruise in 2024?
From new ships to new safety measures, 2024 is a great year to take a cruise. To help prepare you for your high seas adventure, Squaremouth has put together a handful of cruise tips focused around saving you money and providing you with peace of mind. See our full list of cruise insurance tips here.