Almost a third of luxury cruise passengers plan to opt for smaller ships once the industry returns from coronavirus exile, new travel agency research reveals.

The majority of respondents (56%) plan to travel on a ship carrying 50-500 passengers, compared to 44% who preferred this size of ship before, according to the consumer study carried out  by Mundy Cruising.

Just 7% of the 332 asked plan to travel on a ship carrying more than 1,000 passengers in future, compared to 19% before coronavirus.

A proportion (11%) expect their next cruise to be an expedition voyage and a quarter (26%) would consider a no-fly cruise from continental Europe, joining their ship by road or rail.

The majority of Mundy clients (63%) plan to cruise again in 2021 with 15% hoping to return to sea this year if possible.

A further 20% aim for a cruise holiday in 2022 or later, while just 3% indicated that they would not board a ship again.

Almost a third (30%) of respondents are planning a river cruise for their next trip.

Mundy’s sales figures show business up last month by a claimed 63% compared to June 2019.

Many clients are opting for itineraries closer to home, with destinations in demand including the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

More surprising is interest in North America and the Caribbean, though this tallies with findings from the survey, with 41% of respondents prepared to consider a long-haul trip for their next cruise.

Edwina Lonsdale, managing director of the specialist in small ship ocean, river and expedition cruising, said: “We are buoyed by our clients’ confidence in the future and their excitement about cruising again.

“The cruise industry is leading the way in safe global travel, collaborating widely to ensure guests can return safely to their favourite type of holiday.”