The cruise industry is doing well as 2015 kicks into high gear, Travel Agent learned at the recent CLIA State of the Industry press conference. Here's a look at the key trends that are set to drive cruise travel in the coming year.
Growth was a key theme of the address, as Adam Goldstein, chairman, CLIA, and president and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., kicked off the discussion with a look at how the industry has fared overall since the Great Recession.
23 million passengers are expected to sail this year, a new record, with 61 percent CLIA travel agents reporting an increase in 2015 bookings over the same time last year. Growth has been steady at about 5 percent per year since 2009, Goldstein said.
Growth has been particularly strong in certain key demographics, said Maria Miller, senior vice president, marketing, Norwegian Cruise Line. These include cruisers in their 30s, as well as in the 50-59 segment -- Gen Xers and Boomers.
Travel Agents as Influencers
Looking ahead, CLIA reaffirmed its commitment to travel agents, with a few remarks themed around the idea of "Travel Agents as Influencers."
"Having a knowledgeable professional to help ferret through the choices and guide you to the right selection is really critical," said Miller, citing research that showed 70 percent of cruise travelers used a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.
Travel agents are also showing signs of strength. According to CLIA's Travel Agent Optimism survey, agents are reporting a 61 percent increase in 2015 travel bookings, and 80 percent plan to promote cruises. The study was completed toward the end of 2014.
In destination news, Caribbean continues to be the largest in overall volume, but Asia is a big and rising trend. Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas is homeporting in China starting in May, and other lines are stepping up their deployment in the region.
The Mediterranean is also seeing strong growth, according to Miller, as well as Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest cruise industry news, trends and research.