Last month, Home-Based Travel Agent polled readers to find out about your businesses; we cover many of the results on this issue ("Survey Says"). Since the vast majority of cruises are booked by travel agents, it should come as no surprise that 74 percent of respondents reported that they specialized in cruises, while a full half said they sell more cruises than tours/packages and hotels/resorts.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) predicts record-breaking cruise performance this year, due in part to new ships coming on line, new itineraries and ports of call and richer onboard programming. Based on the responses gathered in a national sample by TNS Travel & Transport, the organization's "2006 Cruise Market Profile" predicted that 31 million people will likely take a cruise over the next three years. Thirty-one million people.
No wonder cruise lines are ordering more ships and building them bigger. Lines from Carnival to Cunard and Norwegian to Seabourn have ships on order. But particularly apropos to this issue is Disney's announcement on February 22 that it has ordered two ocean liners to be delivered in 2011 and 2012. Our story on this issue ("The Grown-Up Side of Disney") incorporates a review by our cruise editor, David Eisen, of Disney Cruise Line's Wonder.
Disney Cruise Line reports that it has been sailing with load factors of nearly 150 percent. The two as-yet-unnamed 122,000-ton ships it has on order will have 1,250 staterooms and will be two decks taller than the two existing Disney ships. Specific design plans and itineraries have not been announced yet.
Back to the CLIA report, which found that only 51 percent of non-cruise vacationers use a travel agent while 83 percent of cruise travelers do. And look at the repeat business: The average cruiser has taken 3.4 cruises; luxury cruise guests are the most seasoned, with 9.1 cruises.
Our Expo Is a Hit
We also found out from our reader survey that nearly one-third of respondents attended our inaugural Home-Based Travel Agent Expo, and more than half are planning on attending this year. Mark your calendars for December 4-6, 2007, again at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. We'll let you know details as they become available, but in the meantime, visit www.homebasedta.com for information about our Hometown Heroes contest, our message boards and much more.
Anastasia (Stasha) Mills Managing Editor [email protected] 212-895-8251