PHOTO: Vitava River, Prague, Czech Republic. According to the Allianz Global Assistance wave season survey, passengers overwhelmingly prefer river cruising. (Photo via Flickr/Thomas Depenbusch)
It’s the age-old cruise conundrum. You’re gulping down an early breakfast, eating with just one hand because you need the other to scribble notes on your daily bulletin about all you’re going to do on shore today. Yes, you do plan to take two tours, grab lunch at an area restaurant, and time permitting, a quick coffee or ice cream before getting back on board.
Meanwhile, the passenger next to you is enjoying a leisurely breakfast with absolutely no interest in leaving the boat. You’d ask questions, but you have places to go, tours to catch, things to do.
According to a new wave season survey by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance, nearly one-third of respondents (34.3 percent) said they prefer to stay on board the ship for all or most of their cruise.
Allianz Global Assistance delved into the whys as well.
Some 1/3 of the people opting to stay on board do so out of concerns for their safety revealed the survey. Also keeping people on board were disinterest in the destination (17.7 percent), fear of not getting back to the ship on time (16.8 percent), inclusive food/drink options on the ship (9.4 percent), not having pre-booked an off-board activity (8.3 percent), having visited the destination previously (6.8 percent) and lack of internet/mobile connectivity (4.8 percent).
Interestingly, the survey found that respondents had an overwhelming interest in river cruising (73.9 percent) versus ocean cruising (26.1 percent). Of those who said they preferred river cruising, they cited scenic views/ability to see the shore line (22.4 percent), shore excursions included in the price (13.5 percent), lack of waves (12.3 percent), easier to disembark/be on land every day (12.2 percent), smaller ships (7.6 percent) and more socializing opportunities (6 percent).
And despite the current focus on Cuba, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they were less interested (7.3 percent) or uninterested (59.5 percent) in travelling to Cuba. The rest wee almost evenly split between being more interested (16.7) and still interested (16.4 percent) in visiting the Caribbean nation.
The survey also queried passengers about their interests in current cruising trends and found that one-quarter (25.5 percent) of Americans said they would prefer to take a cruise with a theme, such as music, food or pop culture. But there was nearly an identical response (26.6 percent) among people who said they would be less interested in a themed cruise. Nearly half of all respondents said a themed cruise would net affect their attitudes at all.
The survey also found that adventure and expedition cruises are growing more popular, although respondents were almost equally split when asked to choose between exploration cruises (48.9 percent) or enjoying a cruise that favors sunny beaches (51.1 percent).
The survey, of course, also queried travelers impressions about travel insurance. More than half of respondents (56.1 percent) said they believed being airlifted from the Caribbean back to the United States via air ambulance would cost less than $20,000. In fact, the total cost can run upwards of $200,000.
“The one product that’s always on trend to put cruisers’ minds at ease is travel insurance,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA. “A big misconception we found in our survey was that many Americans (59.2 percent) believe their cruise line would be equipped to handle serious medical emergencies when in actuality, cruise lines often require passengers to be transported to the closest medical facility for treatment. Often local medical facilities may not be equipped to handle major medical problems and some cruisers may need to be evacuated by air ambulance to the U.S. for treatment.”
Although there are many types of travel insurance, the right policy could cover medical bills incurred while out of the country. It could also cover unforeseen fees for passengers who need to cancel their cruise (for reasons included in the policy). This is especially relevant as most Americans stated that they plan to arrive at their departure city the day before (38.5 percent) or the day of (21.5 percent) of the cruise, which could leave them open to problems caused by flight cancellations, delays or missed connections.
“Cruising is a significant travel investment and we agree with respondents that getting travel insurance before a cruise is of equal or more importance than with other types of trips,” said Durazo.
1. Have the recent announcements of cruise lines adding sailings to Cuba made you more or less interested in visiting the country?
* 16.7% - More Interested
* 7.3% - Less Interested
* 16.4% - Unchanged, I’m still interested
* 59.5% - Unchanged, I’m still not interested
2. If you were to take a cruise anywhere, to what extent would you prefer to stay on the ship versus get off the ship to explore the destinations?
* 6.5% - Entire time on the ship
* 27.8% - Majority on ship with some destination time
* 40.1% - Majority in destination with some ship time
* 25.5% - Entire time exploring the destination
3. When taking a cruise, what would be your main reason for not wanting to disembark at the ports to explore the destinations?
* 9.4% - Inclusive food/drinks on the ship
* 36.2% - Safety concerns with the destination
* 17.7% - Disinterest in the destination
* 16.8% - Fear of not getting back to the ship on time
* 8.3% - Not having pre-booked an off-board activity
* 4.8% - Lack of internet/mobile connectivity
* 6.8% - Having visited the destination previously
4. Would you be more or less interested in taking a cruise if it was themed (ex: music cruises, foodie cruises, pop culture cruises like Star Wars)?
* 25.5% - More interested
* 26.6% - Less interested
* 48% - Unchanged
5. What attribute of a river cruise would make you prefer to take a river cruise over an ocean cruise?
* 12.3% - No waves
* 22.4% - It’s more scenic/ You can see the shore line
* 12.2% - Easier to disembark/ On land every day
* 6% - More socializing opportunities
* 7.6% - Smaller ships
* 13.5% - Shore excursions included in the price
* 26.1% - None, I prefer ocean cruising
6. Would you be more interested in taking an adventure or expedition cruise to destinations like Alaska versus sunny beach destinations like the Caribbean?
* 48.9% - More interested in adventure or expedition
* 51.1% - More interested in sunny beach
7. If you were to take a cruise, how many days in advance would you plan to arrive in the departure city of your cruise?
* 21.5% - 0, I’d arrive the same day
* 38.5% - 1
* 18% - 2
* 6.4% - 3
* 3.1% - 4
* 3.1% - 5
* 9.4% - 6 or more
8. If you were to get sick on a cruise, do you think the cruise line would be equipped to handle serious medical emergencies?
* 59.2% - Yes, I think cruise lines are equipped
* 40.8% - No, I don’t think cruise lines are equipped
9. If a cruise were to disembark you in Mexico or the Caribbean due to a serious medical issue, what do you think it would cost you to be flown to the U.S. via an air ambulance?
* 30.4% - $0-$10,000
* 25.7% - $10,001-$20,000
* 14% - $20,001-$30,000
* 9.9% - $30,001-$40,000
* 4.5% - $40,001-$50,000
* 15.4% - $50,001 or higher
10. Do you think it’s more or less important to purchase travel insurance before a cruise versus any other type of trip?
* 40.3% - I think it’s more important
* 10.9% - I think it’s less important
* 48.8% - I think the importance is equal
For more information on purchasing Allianz Travel Insurance, visit www.allianztravelinsurance.com.