Are Plummeting Air Fares Causing A Spike in Cruise Travel?
It would seem that cruise customers are seeking both bigger and smaller ships, and cheaper flights are causing a surge in cruise bookings. Those are just two of the big takeaways from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) second quarter Cruise Industry Outlook Report of 2016, conducted in February among travel agents.
“Travel agents truly are the experts when it comes to identifying and forecasting cruise travel trends,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “Through the ongoing Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook, we are able to tap into the knowledge and expertise of agents to identify the most current trends impacting the cruise industry.”
CLIA first highlights how airfare has recently impacted cruising, indicating that 53 percent of agents say that lower flight costs are helping to promote increased cruise bookings. Also, 30 percent say that exchange rates make international cruises more enticing. The take away here is that affordability to support sailings is key, especially as cruise lines realize that they can maintain prices higher than before.
Within the international waterscape, river cruising and large cruise ship interest continues to grow. Around 60 percent of agents claim that there remains potential for increased river cruise and large ship sales, and more than 40 percent expect to see interest in ocean cruises in general rise. Overall, this indicates demand in two disparate directions: bigger vessels and smaller riverboats. In fact, new ocean ship builds are following that path as well with mainstream lines constructing larger and upper premium and luxury lines assembling smaller.
Also of note away from international travel is an increased interest in cruising more locally. Nearly 73 percent of agents report more Alaskan cruise sales, and almost 48 percent have seen growth in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico. Similarly, 36 percent say the same of Hawaii, 33 percent of Panama Canal sailings and 30 percent for Canada and New England. So, again a divide exists between more domestic and international cruises, indicating two different travel perspectives that collectively help to expand cruising globally.
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