Returning to the helm? Search data reveals the bounceback of cruises as Brits cement travel plans

Whether nearby shores or a Caribbean adventure, British holidaymakers are once again looking to cruises to get them there – but with an eye on prices.

Cruises are making a comeback as a holiday option for Brits year after a tumultuous time during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new search data.

Cruise-related Google searches soared in the first three months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, research from search agency MediaVision has revealed, with searches for “Mediterranean cruise” up 104% over the first quarter of the year, and “Caribbean cruise” searches topping 50,000 – a rise of 54%.

Signalling a jubilant mood among British holidaymakers, searches for “booze cruise” were up 22% compared to 2022, while the largest number of searches – at more than 94,000 – was for “cruises from Southampton”.

Cruises may be an expensive holiday option for many, but that isn’t stopping Brits from seeking out where a deal is to be had on the seas as they place their bets on a cruise holiday. Searches for “cruise deals” and “cheap cruises” were up 88% and 85% respectively.

The winning cruise brands

MediaVision’s analysis, using the agency’s Digital Demand Tracker, also revealed good news for cruise providers. P&O Cruises saw a year-on-year rise in search volumes of 69% to hit almost 850,000, the most of all major cruise companies analysed. Marella Cruises hit the highest increase year-on-year, at 95, while searches for MSC Cruises were up 90% compared to 2022.

But many other companies monitored by MediaVision also saw increased interest, indicating that people are once again ready to dip their toes into a cruise break after the pandemic almost spelled a death-knell for maritime holidays, with cruise ships being deemed “superspreaders” of COVID-19 amid numerous reports of passengers being held on board to try and contain the spread of infection.

Searches for specialist Celebrity Cruises were up 48% in 2023 and Princess Cruises – notorious at the height of the pandemic for holding one of the largest clusters of COVID cases on its Diamond Princess ship – saw searches top 300,000 in the first three months of this year, a rise of 14% on 2022.

Louis Venter, MediaVision CEO said: “Search behaviour is always a powerful indicator of consumer intent, and we have been monitoring the cruise trends during the “golden period” for cruise bookings.

“Now cruise companies are reporting record bookings, it turns out that our prediction was right – cruising is back! See you on the starboard side!”