Travel Leaders: Alaska Cruises Most Popular Domestic Trip for 2018

Princess Cruises Alaska
Photo by Princess Cruises

Alaska cruises jumped to the top spot from last year’s fifth place to become the most booked domestic vacation for 2018, according to findings from Travel Leaders Group’s new 2018 Travel Trends Survey. Orlando was bumped down a notch to second place. Las Vegas, Maui and New York City rounded out the Top 5. Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while European river cruises edged up one place to third. Mediterranean cruises and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Top “up and coming” destinations include Iceland, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. Additionally, of the respondents who book travel to the Caribbean, 45.6 percent said their 2018 bookings to the Caribbean are about even with last year, while 13.3 percent said their bookings to the Caribbean are higher. When it comes to Caribbean cruises, 71.7 percent said these bookings are either higher than or equal to last year’s bookings.

“It is important to note that interest in the Caribbean, whether it is a cruise or land-based travel, remains high,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko in a written statement. “Cruising overall, whether it’s to the Caribbean, a European river cruise or a cruise in the Mediterranean, is a popular vacation pick for Americans due to the multiple destinations one can visit, along with the tremendous value and convenience cruises offer.”

Alaska cruises have been among the top 10 domestic trips booked by Travel Leaders Group travel advisors over the last several years, but this is the first year Alaska cruises have reached the number one spot in the annual Travel Trends Survey. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 1,089,700 passengers cruised in Alaska in 2017 and that number is projected to grow another seven percent to 1,165,500 passengers in 2018.

“Alaska is a truly unique bucket-list destination and more and more people from around the world are discovering its awe-inspiring beauty,” noted Chacko. “Our travel advisors frequently recommend it as a not-to-be-missed travel experience, especially for those interested in vivid scenery, wildlife or expedition travel.

Chacko added, “Also, optimism among Travel Leaders Group agents with respect to their travel business is at the highest level we’ve seen this decade.”

Key findings from Travel Leaders Group’s 2018 Travel Trends Survey include top international and domestic destinations, as well as top Canadian and top “up and coming” destinations.

Top 2018 U.S. and International Destinations:

Rank 2018 Top U.S. Destinations   Rank '17
1 Cruise - Alaska 47.9% 5
2 Orlando, FL 38.6% 1
3 Las Vegas, NV 35.4% 4
4 Maui, HI 30.9% 2
5 New York City, NY 27.7% 3
6 Honolulu, HI 25.7% 6
7 Cruise - Hawaii 16.5% 15
8 Miami / Miami Beach, FL 15.5% 10
9 Washington, DC 14.7% 8
10 Los Angeles, CA 12.9% 7


Rank 2018 Top International Destinations   Rank '17
1 Cruise - Caribbean 34.7% 1
2 Cancun, Mexico 28.3% 2
3 Cruise - Europe (River) 23.1% 4
4 Cruise - Europe (Mediterranean) 17.4% 8
5 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 17.2% 6
6 Rome, Italy 16.0% 5
7 London, England 15.5% 3
8 (tie) Amsterdam, the Netherlands 12.6% 12
8 (tie) Montego Bay, Jamaica 12.6% 9
9 Playa del Carmen / Riviera Maya, Mexico 11.4% 10
10 Paris, France 11.1% 7

Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations

  • Europe - Up and Coming: Iceland (42.9%), Croatia (17.9%), and Portugal (11.5%).
  • Pacific - Up and Coming:  New Zealand (28.7%), Tahiti (13%), and Bora Bora (11.1%).
  • Asia - Up and Coming: Thailand (24.8%), Vietnam (20.8%), and Maldives (15.6%).
  • Central/South America - Up and Coming: Peru (16.7%), Panama (14.6%), and the Galapagos Islands (14.2%).
  • Africa - Up and Coming: Kenya (10.2%), Morocco (6.9%), and Tanzania (6.5%).

Top Canada Destinations

1. Vancouver, British Columbia

2. Montreal, Quebec

3. Toronto, Ontario

4. Banff, Alberta

5. Calgary, Alberta

6. Quebec City, Quebec

7 (tie). Niagara Falls, Ontario

7 (tie). Lake Louise, Alberta

8. Halifax, Nova Scotia

9. Vancouver Island

10. Whistler, British Columbia

2018 Business Outlook

Based on actual bookings and consumer inquiries, Travel Leaders Group agents weighed in on how optimistic they are for their business in 2018.

What is your personal outlook on your business in 2018?

Response 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Optimistic 87.1% 81.1% 83.2% 83.7% 83.0% 78.7%
Neither optimistic nor pessimistic 10.0% 15.8% 13.6% 14.2% 14.2% 16.0%
Pessimistic 2.7% 3.1% 3.2% 2.1% 2.8% 5.3%

Based on actual booking data, Travel Leaders Group’s survey was conducted over two months from December 20, 2017-February 19, 2018, with responses from 1,355 North American-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand and Travel Leaders Group’s All Aboard Travel, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Travel Leaders Corporate, and Tzell Travel Group units.

Source: Travel Leaders Group

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