According to the latest Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report, Alaska and the Caribbean are currently the hottest destinations for cruise travel, while cruisers also are showing interest in Cuba. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released the report, which offers current cruise travel trends and key insights from cruise travel agents. The report also found cruise sales are consistently on the rise for nearly eight out of ten agents surveyed (79 percent) when compared to last year. The report also found that the majority of agents are still booking trips to the Caribbean despite the 2017 hurricanes.
Key findings from the seventh edition of the Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report:
Diverse Destinations & the Weather Effect
According to the report, when it comes to destinations, Alaska is on the upswing even compared to last year. In fact, 64 percent of agents stated Alaska is a current growth market for business (compared to 57 percent last year). In terms of other destinations, nearly 43 percent of agents reported an uptick in interest among travelers in sailing to Cuba. Why are travelers looking to cruise to Cuba? Nearly half (48 percent) of travel agents say clients are interested in Cuba because it is a new, exotic and mysterious destination. Additional reasons cited to visit Cuba include: immersion in an unfamiliar culture (30 percent) and reconnecting with relatives or friends (5 percent). Filling in the generation gap, nearly seven out of ten (69 percent) of Baby Boomers show interest in traveling to Cuba followed closely by 58 percent of Gen Xers, 47 percent of Traditionalists, and 43 percent of Millennials.
The 2017 hurricanes dealt a blow to the Caribbean, but in spite of that the area is still open for business and is still booming. Even though 65 percent of travel agents say that the hurricanes impacted business, a staggering 86 percent of agents still reported that clients were booking cruises to the region with more than three quarters (76 percent) of travel agents stating clients were taking advantage of Caribbean pricing discounts.
Interest in the Cruise Travel is Strong
According to the report, travel agents have seen consistent sales growth within the last twelve months. In fact, 41 percent of travel agents noted cruise business is up by more than ten percent this year (up from 38 percent of agents who reported this last year). Additionally, 22 percent of agents reported sales are up between six and ten percent (up from 17 percent who reported the same last year). Some factors attributing to the continued success and increasing popularity of the cruise industry include: a rise in interest when it comes to river cruising, specifically in Europe; a variety of new ships and constant ship enhancements and upgrades; and the ease of travel for multigenerational groups.
The report found travelers are changing their habits, particularly their spending habits. The report found cruise travelers are spending more money compared to last year. Nearly eight out of ten (79 percent) of cruisers have increased their vacation spending compared to last year (up from 73 percent). More than a quarter (26 percent) of cruise travelers have added more than ten percent to their cruise budgets in the last twelve months with 31 percent saying they have added between six and ten percent more money to their cruise budget in the last year.