Millennial Minute: Do Millennial Travelers Love to Cruise?

Experts in Millennial travel discuss whether or not crusies are a vital part of Millennial travel. From left to right, Brad Rutta of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection in Wisconsin; Heather Christopher of Classic Travel at Tackett's Mill in Virginia and Marisa Costa of NEXT, a program by Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group based in New York. 

As part of a recent roundtable conducted by Travel Agent at The New York Edition hotel in New York City, we asked some experts in the field if Millennial clients were keen on cruising and, if so, which types of cruising are most likely to make agents some Millennial money.

The panelists were Ashley Lancer of Valerie Wilson Travel in New York; Andrey Zaharenko of Always Travel in San Francisco; Natalia Chelnokova of Frosch; Rebecca Norrbom of Holiday Cruises & Tours in Las Vegas; Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel in Arizona; Brad Rutta of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection in Wisconsin; Heather Christopher of Classic Travel at Tackett's Mill in Virginia; and Marisa Costa of NEXT, a program by Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group based in New York. 

The panel was moderated by Ruthanne Terrero, vice president and editorial director for Travel Agent magazine and Joe Pike, senior editor of Travel Agent magazine.

To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

Joe Pike, Travel Agent: I think many people don’t realize that Millennials are really driving the cruise industry now because they like the pricing of it. They think there's a lot of value. They like the all-inclusive pricing, and they wake up in a new destination every single day. A Baby Boomer will find what he likes and stick to it and a Millennial constantly needs to be blown away because of that constant challenge to impress people. Waking up a new destination every day accomplishes that goal for Millennials. 

From left to right, Joe Pike of Travel Agent; Ashley Lancer of Valerie Wilson Travel; Rebecca Norrbom of Holiday Cruises & Tours; Marisa Costa of NEXT; Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel; Andrey Zaharenko of Always Travel; Natalia Chelnokova of Frosch; Heather Christopher of Classic Travel at Tackett's Mill; and Brad Rutta of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection

Ashley Lancer, Valerie Wilson Travel: They want different things. I mean there's no point of going to the same place again if there's so many other options within this world. They have to be adding shorter cruises for that Millennial generation even if it's all the way to Europe. The five- and seven-day cruises are selling out so much quicker to younger generations because we want to elongate our short amount of vacation, use as much as possible and diversify it throughout the year. Whereas, maybe a Boomer wants to take that long trip so they're not traveling back and forth to Europe and taking flights long. I don't mind being on a long flight because I want to experience as many things as possible so we're going to do those short trips. The cruise ships are really trying to get those smaller package days.

Rebecca Norrbom, Holiday Cruises & Tours: I'm getting a lot that like cruises. I love cruising and I always pitch cruising to Millennials as, "Well, you go spend a day in every city and then you figure out where you're going back next time." That’s how you maximize where you're going, but they don't want to do regular shore excursions. They want to figure out what pubs they're going to go to, what museum they may visit when they're in these ports. That's one thing that I see very different is that they want a very authentic experience when they get in these places. I've done three river cruises but I hardly ate on the ship unless I had to. I wanted to go eat in town. 

Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: I think it's a regional thing too listening to you guys talk because my Millennial clients do not like cruises. I can't think of the last Millennial I put on a cruise, so I'm like is that a regional thing?

Rebecca Norrbom, Holiday Cruises & Tours: I do all kinds of cruises for Millennials - Europe, Alaska. I actually get less Caribbean. I get my Millennial people that want to stay at a resort or an all-inclusive if they're doing Caribbean. I’m West Coast, so Alaska is really popular because they want to do the adventure. They want to do the hiking. They can do an easy flight to Seattle.

Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: Can you get your Millennials on a Crystal though?

Rebecca Norrbom, Holiday Cruises & Tours: I do have a couple of Millennials that I booked on Crystal. They're very affluent and their parents have taken them on Crystal before.

Ashley Lancer, Valerie Wilson Travel: Royal Caribbean is great for families. Disney is going to be great for young kids. But it's true, Princess, Crystal and Silverseas are all amazing, but not sure if it's for Millennials right now.

Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: I think there's a huge market for Millennials taking river cruises because they also stop in all of these great little towns.

Ashley Lancer, Valerie Wilson Travel: I love cruising because you don't have to think about it. You're in one place. You can unpack once, but the cruise ships go in big ports where you're not where you need to be. River cruising, I agree, it's probably fantastic for Millennials. They just need to know how to market it correctly and that you're in the places where Millennials want to be. Again, I don't want to eat on the ship. I want to eat in the places I may not see again. There's probably a way that you need to incorporate that and get them in there, but it's so easy. You take a bike off the river cruise and meet them at the next port.

Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: I think they're totally missing the mark there but I think it's the price quote right now. Right now, everybody thinks of an older client going on a river cruise so we just need to get that fixed to include Millennials. That's where marketing and branding could really make a difference. 

Daniela Harrison, Avenues of the World Travel: My first river cruise was my husband and I. We were probably the youngest by 40 years, like easily 40 years if not more. This was a couple of years ago. We got on the ship and it took literally 15 minutes before everybody knew our name. Everybody wanted to know what our story was, you know, why we were there, what we were doing. We made friends with all the staff. It's just being able to make that connection with the staff on board. 

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest news and be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike.

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