In a year end report, Expedia CruiseShipCenters said it continues to ride the wave of cruising’s popularity, reporting year end growth of 18 percent on sales and bookings of $310 million. “Clearly, the popularity of cruise vacations continues to grow, especially in the first-time cruise market,” says Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “Cruising also offers the best value for the money and, for 2009, our client bookings are already ahead of this same time last year by 14 percent.”
According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), an estimated 12 million guests have cruised aboard their member lines in 2008. The year also saw the launch of more than 10 new ships including the much anticipated Celebrity Solstice, which featured among its many innovations a Lawn Club sporting freshly manicured real grass with a putting green and lawn bowling area.
Although the Caribbean remains the most popular cruise destination (51 percent of Expedia CruiseShipCenters' sales by destination), cruising to more exotic destinations is gaining popularity. Expedia CruiseShipCenters' sales by destination— Panama Canal, South America, South Pacific and World Cruises were 18 percent, Alaska was 16 percent and Europe 14 percent.
“It’s exciting to be part of a young and growing industry,” says Geraldine Ree, senior vice president sales and marketing. “Last year, more ships than ever were cruising Europe, Australia, Asia and South America and there’s a growing interest in river cruises and the luxury market.”
According to Ree, a 20 percent increase in the Expedia CruiseShipCenters marketing budget will help ensure the company continues to reap the lion’s share of the cruise market. “Nine out of 10 people who try a cruise vacation for the first time, say they will cruise again," she said. "Our job is to be experts at determining what kind of vacation experience they are looking for and to match the customer to the right ship.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a team of over 2,000 independent Cruise Consultants and 110 retail locations from coast to coast. Thirty-minute seminars will be held January 14 and 15 to assist agents.
Call 888-316-1333 or visit www.cruiseshipcenters.com.