Now, that's a long — and expensive — trip.
A 132-night "world cruise" sold out in under three hours, despite pandemic worries that have hobbled the cruise industry and steep prices that start at $73,499 per guest — and range up to $199,999 per person for a master suite.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises released the fares for sale at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday. By 11 a.m., all the spots had been snapped up by people eager to spend more than four months on a cruise ship. The strong interest may be a positive sign for the cruise industry as it tries to rebound from the pandemic.
The voyage, which will span 34,500 nautical miles, includes 66 ports of call, as the Seven Seas Mariner will visit 31 countries and four continents. Passengers will also see 61 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The epic round-trip cruise will depart from Miami in January 2024. The company also has round-the-world cruises slated for 2022 and 2023, but it says the tickets for its 2024 trip sold out faster than for any other year.
High-end accommodations brought some of the most intense interest, the company says. That trend aligns with the new economic reality imposed by the pandemic, in which well-off customers have snapped up big-ticket products and services, and even homes, even as millions of other Americans struggle to pay for housing and essentials.
"Remarkably, we've found that interest hasn't just come from our past guests, and we have seen a strong increase in first-time travelers," said Jason Montague, Regent Seven Seas Cruises' president and CEO.
Many of those new customers, he adds, "were keen to book the higher end of our suites."
Living quarters aboard the Seven Seas Mariner range from the deluxe veranda suite, whose bed and adjacent sitting area resembles what you might find in a nice boutique hotel, to the master suite, which add a full dining table and living rooms with polished floors and armchairs.
The rapid sales are seen as another confirmation of customers' desire for more cruises, particularly long ones. Last week, a 40-night winter Caribbean voyage on Carnival Cruise Lines' P&O Cruises sold out in six hours.
Cruise lines are still struggling to resume normal operations after being plunged into a freefall by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed a "no sail" order on cruise ships last year, and several trips were either ruined by outbreaks or linked to the spread of cases among returning passengers. The sector's main players, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean Group, have been forced to postpone or cancel voyages from U.S. ports.
A glimmer of hope emerged in late June when Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Edge became the first cruise ship to sail from a U.S. port in more than a year. Carnival had initially said it would not resume sailing from the U.S. until August. But after determining that conditions were safe enough to resume operations, the Carnival Vista left Galveston, Texas, for a weeklong trip to Mexico and Belize.
The cost of travel rose more than 13% from June 2020 to June 2021, according to the U.S. Travel Association's most recent travel price index. The figures also show a 3% rise in travel prices from June 2019 to June 2021.