Ocean Cruise Industry Outlook: Hot Destinations
Carol and I have seen cruise bookings up significantly in 2017. And, as our niche is primarily the baby boomer traveler, we’re experiencing increase percentages far beyond the industry as a whole.
In fact, if you remember, Carol and I were blown away to learn that we are the #1 Viking Cruises booking agent in all of Virtuoso (16,000 agents) and we’re in the top five in the world (see this article).
Here’s this from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA):
“Travelers of all types increasingly see cruises as an optimal option for experiencing new and varied locations, fine dining, personalized service, entertainment… and adventure, according to the sixth edition of the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) Travel Agent Cruise Outlook research.
The quarterly study surveys 1,000 North American travel agents to determine and forecast industry trends, spend and market outlook. And the news on cruise is—in research parlance—significantly positive.
More than 80% of travel agents say their cruise volume has increased in 2017, and three quarters say their clients are spending more this year on water-based tourism. Those numbers have grown year-on-year to show a robust and healthy interest in and spend on cruise-based travel.”
Surprisingly, while mentioned in passing, the report doesn’t speak much about the big surge in river cruising. While our ocean cruise business is definitely up for 2017, our river cruise business is up significantly from last year.
So, unless I’m missing something, I think this report would better be titled the Travel Agent Ocean Cruise Outlook. Oh, and they spelled Mediterranean wrong. Nonetheless, let’s take a peek at the hot ocean cruise destinations as reported by 1,000 travel agents.
As I study this chart, here are a few thoughts that come to mind:
- While it is easy to concentrate on the blue growth percentages, there is also a lot to be learned by also peeking at the gray and dark gray columns as well.
- Alaska – Our business concurs. We are seeing a large percentage increase in Alaska bookings. Ocean cruise lines are putting more ships in the region for 2018, but it is also interesting to note that the Caribbean totally dwarfs Alaska in overall booking dollars as we taught you in this article back in August. Moral of the story for Alaska? There is limited capacity, and you MUST book early!
- Caribbean – While we certainly see Caribbean ocean cruise bookings, particularly from our clients east of the Mississippi, our business is seeing increased bookings for Alaska, Canada/New England, Europe, Hawaii, the South Pacific, and Australia/New Zealand. I suspect that this is because our client base is predominately baby boomers, and when it comes to the Caribbean, they’ve been there, done that. Our clients tend to book the Caribbean because of the warm winter climate, and the fact that it’s easy and close. They generally come home talking about the weather and the ship, and not so much about the destination.
- Canada/New England: While generally a short one-month season, this is also a hot, sold-out destination every single year. We recommend it to you.
- Europe Mediterranean: If you look closely at this chart, you will notice that while 25% are seeing an increase, 24% are reporting a decrease. Perhaps terrorism fears? We are seeing an increase in Mediterranean bookings over last year.
- Northern Europe: This chart looks similar to the Mediterranean chart. However, we are seeing a big influx of folks traveling to the Baltics this year. In fact, Viking has three of its five ocean-going vessels in the Baltics in the summer. For baby boomer travelers, the Baltics are a hot destination.
While we have clients traveling in all of the other destinations, I think I will end my discussion here as those five regions along with European river cruises cover the vast bulk of our cruise bookings for 2017.
So, Alaska is HOT. And, as I taught you in this article, if you’re thinking of an ocean or river cruise for 2018, you had better get it booked now. 🙂
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