Cruise Industry Improving Across the Board, Writes Analyst

The cruise industry seems to have righted the ship, according to Bank of America's latest travel agent survey. The bank's analyst, Michael Savner, writes that bookings, pricing and booking curves all "touched high watermarks" in July. "The pricing recovery was led by stronger demand, improved close-in pricing, booking curve lengthening and stronger Alaskan and Caribbean pricing," Savner writes.

Each month Bank of America polls travel agents across the country to gauge industry trends. July demand reached its highest mark since last November, as Europe continued to sell along with the seven-day Caribbean market. Expectedly, Europe continues to shine as the strongest cruising region based on bookings. (Almost half of agents queried rated it the highest-booked region.)

In addition, economic issues remained the highest-rated reason why consumers might not choose or delay a cruise vacation. That said, land-based vacations impacting cruise bookings rose from 11 percent to 19 percent. Below is a sampling of unaccredited travel agent observations:

"Demand is strong. Bookings for 2008 are strong and being made farther out than previously."

"Pricing strategies vary widely by line. Some lines have seen their booking windows extend as a result of more aggressive advance pricing."

"Overall good, but I am concerned about Europe in 2008. Looking at early air pricing for `08, I think that if these prices hold, Europe will have a slow season in `08 and more people will be looking to drive to ports for cruises."

"I think the cruise industry is doing very well. I have been having trouble finding availability for several itineraries."

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