Season of Strong Cruise Wave: Rising Yields and Depleting Inventory

It’s been a successful yet unusual wave season, said Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia Cruises, which has 260 North America-based franchises and over 6,000 travel advisors under its umbrella.

With the big cruise lines entering the new year in the best booked position ever, Eichhorst said there was less to sell, at higher prices.

“The yields are up overall and we are seeing better prices,” he said. “So many people want to go on the Icon, but it may not have the inventory or the pricing may be too high, so they get shifted to the Symphony of the Seas, for example.”

There is also less short-in inventory, he said, attributing the sales success to pent up demand for travel.

“There is sticker shock out there,” he continued. “Prices are up. The price of airfare is more, and that is pulling people back into the North American market.”

Also helping, he said, is that the new ships are being based in North America.

“We also have more (new ships) doing shorter cruises. Celebrity is doing short cruises. It’s a new era for sure to get high-yielding product (in the short market).”

Among other trends, families continue to book in multigenerational groups.

“Alaska was a product I was concerned about with all the (ships) going in,” Eichhorst explained. “But, it’s not a concern. It’s selling well for us and there is good hardware there.”

With prices heading in the right direction, Eichhorst warned that cruise lines should be thinking about a long runway and not short-term profits.

“I hope they don’t overswing on the yield opportunity in the short term. With the product being in a good position this year, it’s easy to raise prices.”

Read the full interview in the upcoming Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2024 edition.

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