PHOTO: Carnival Dream close up. (photo via Flickr/arctic_whirlwind)
Every year, CruiseCompete compiles a very telling CruiseTrends Annual Report looking at the popularity of lots of industry categories from cruise lines to preferred sailing months. Let’s break down the online marketplace’s results from last year below.
Most Popular Cruise Lines
CruiseCompete, or CC as we’ll abbreviate it from now on, ranks lines and ships in three categories: Contemporary/Premium, Luxury and River. Proving its continued fleet ubiquity, Carnival Cruise Line comes out on top in the first list followed by Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and others.
Sneaking in at the bottom is Viking Ocean Cruises, which in this case would more accurately be grouped in with Luxury since close competitors Oceania Cruises (in spot one) and Azamara Club Cruises (in spot five) are ranked there. As expected, however, Viking River Cruises leads the River category.
Most Popular Cruise Ships
Among CC’s most popular individual cruise ships, it’s a bit surprising to see Royal Caribbean International’s new Harmony of the Seas absent when its Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas sister-ships come in first and second for Contemporary/Premium.
Showing the resonance of its recent extreme makeover is Cunard Line’s remastered Queen Mary 2 topping other luxury ships such as the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, the only two traditionally classified luxury ships on the list. In the River column, Emerald Waterways Ships collectively rank highest, surprisingly well above one of Viking’s.
Most Popular Cruise Regions, Departure Ports, Ports Visited and Countries Visited
Continuing the breakdown by aforementioned lifestyle categories, the Caribbean and Mexico lead from Fort Lauderdale among Contemporary/Premium guests while Europe is more popular among Luxury and River passengers. Interestingly, though, the United States is listed as the most popular country visited for Luxury cruises, likely as more of that segment is interested in leaving from convenient homeports.
Most Popular Cabin Types and Number of Cabins Requested
As anticipated the king of cabin types across the CC board is a balcony variety followed by outside ones for Luxury and River travelers. Meanwhile, inside staterooms are the preferred second choice for Contemporary/Premium passengers, probably due to their greater affordability. While new ships sport mostly verandas, it’s good they still feature some of the entry-level options as well. And the number of cabins typically requested is just one.
Most Popular Cruise Itinerary Lengths
Always one of the most interesting categories is to see what CC consumers seek out as far as voyage length, and the sweet spot remains for 2016: the weeklong cruise at 7 nights preferred for Contemporary/Premium and Luxury and 8 nights for River. From there, shorter ones come in immediately behind for Contemporary/Premium and generally longer behind for Luxury and River. That’s why it’s more common now to see a mix of cruise durations among the top tier cruise lines while mainstream ones frequent weeklong and shorter sampler voyages still.
Travel Insurance, Loyalty and Booking Window
Upsettingly, a vast majority of CC cruisers opt out of buying travel insurance which is not a wise decision in case of any unforeseen emergencies, medical or otherwise. 80 percent of Contemporary/Premium clients said no, and 77 percent of Luxury ones and 72 percent of River said the same.
More are at least loyal to cruising and their preferred line specifically, but even then, 52 percent of Contemporary/Premium travelers and 72 percent of Luxury passengers are not returning to a line they have sailed before. A staggering 92 percent are not for River either, most likely indicating a majority of newcomers to those cruising areas as opposed to brand defectors.
Meanwhile, those seeking a river cruise book the farthest out with 255 average days between the reservation and departure. Luxury is closely behind with 216 and Contemporary/Premium with 158 considering more last-minute bookings likely pulling that number down some.