Passengers flock to cruise ships as pandemic fears abate

Americans are booking trips on cruise ships at rates not seen since before the pandemic, a sign travelers are more comfortable boarding vessels that were once vectors for coronavirus.

Florida-based Royal Caribbean said earlier this month that the load factor, or percentage of seats filled, of its cruise ships rose to an average of 102% in the first quarter of 2023. By comparison, the occupancy rate was 57% a year ago and 107% in 2019 just before pandemic lockdowns.

Norwegian Cruise Line reported an average 101% occupancy rate during the first quarter, compared to 48% last year and 105% in 2019. The jump in cruise goers is helping revive the industry, which lost billions of dollars during the pandemic.

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