Travel agents continue to play a vital role in selling cruises says the 2008 Cruise Market Profile Study, just released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). A total of 2,426 U.S. residents over the age of 25 were interviewed online for the study between March and April 2008; of them, 42 percent said travel agents provide the best service, which is up two percent from last year.
"This fact is not lost on CLIA’s nearly 16,000 travel agency members who continue to be the industry’s invaluable distribution system and consumers’ most reliable source of assistance and service in planning and booking vacations,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of CLIA.
In 2007, 9.57 million Americans took a cruise vacation representing 76 percent of the total 12.56 million passengers carried on CLIA member lines. This year's study also concluded that 33.7 million Americans stated an intent to cruise within the next three years. "Perhaps the economy isn't having as much of an impact as we thought," said Art Pfenning, vice president of Travel and Transport (TNS), which conducted the study in tandem with CLIA.
Added CLIA's Dale: "Given the current economic climate, we are particularly pleased to see that American cruisers remain bullish on the industry."
Other findings of note: The general profile of the 2008 cruise vacationer is upscale (with a median household income of $93,000), educated (69 percent have a college degree) and the median age of cruisers is now 46 years old, down from 49 in 2006, which shows that cruise vacations continue to appeal to younger travelers; travelers most frequently name the Caribbean as their cruise destination of choice (43 percent) with Alaska, Bahamas, Hawaii, Europe and the Mediterranean/Greek islands also top choices; and cruise vacationers agree (80 percent) that a cruise is a great way to sample destinations that they may wish to visit on a future land-based vacation.
For more information about the study, visit www.cruising.org.