What Do Cruisers Want?
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
CruiseLine.com is a treasure trove of user-submitted cruise ship and port reviews, and the website is celebrating its 100,000th review by sharing some interesting insights into cruise industry trends as gathered from its data.
The First Time Is the Best Time
The website has ascertained that first-time cruisers rank their first sailing about 10 percent higher than seasoned cruisers rate their voyages. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that cruise ships will make a grand first impression on the uninitiated, not knowing exactly what to first expect. Next cruises are not necessarily poorer, but once travelers get a taste for cruising, they are likely to raise their expectations a bit more for those sailings to follow, and cruise ships are ever evolving to wow them each time.
People Are Having More Fun on Cruises Than Ever Before
The recent effort of cruise lines are clearly paying off as high satisfaction ratings have increased. CruiseLine.com shows from 2006, 2011 and 2016 samples that more users are leaving five-star reviews than ever before – 36 percent in 2016 versus 25 percent in 2011. The website sees improvements in entertainment and dining contributing to the uptick, particularly flashier Broadway-style productions and more partnerships with celebrity chefs. As private accommodations also get more comfortable, especially larger bathrooms and showers, hopefully those scores will continue to rise accordingly.
READ MORE: Travel Agents Reveal Current Cruise Trends
Disney Dominates the Industry but Celebrity Is Catching Up
From its review pool, the website shows Disney Cruise Line (pictured above) having an astronomical lead over the competition in overall satisfaction, floating consistently around 4.6. Back in 2006, Royal Caribbean International was second at around 3.8, but now its corporate cousin, Celebrity Cruises, is overtaking it for the runner-up spot, closer to 4.2. Also accelerating with higher scores over the years has been Norwegian Cruise Line which is now neck and neck with Carnival Cruise Line.
The Fundamentals Matter the Most
As previously mentioned, accommodations remain a deciding factor in guest satisfaction as CruiseLine.com users write more about their cabin than any other review category. Aforementioned dining and entertainment come in second and fourth respectively, at least by word count, with third place going to service, showing that software is just as important as hardware. That means new technologies may affect scores less than one would expect. Categories that trail behind in descending order are ship quality, kid’s programs, destinations, embarkation and activities, surprisingly last.
The Best Ports Are Not in the Caribbean
Speaking of destinations and port reviews, the Caribbean does not rate as high as its berth frequency might imply. In fact, the highest satisfaction comes from Eastern Mediterranean calls, followed by Australia, the Baltic and Hawaii before the Southern Caribbean moves the dial. As the Mexican Riviera sees ships begin to return there, its destinations clearly need to make a better impression as the region is currently last in the ratings.
Shoulder Season Sailings Get Better Reviews
Lastly, CruiseLine.com finds that the shoulder season for both the Caribbean and Europe is more popular among cruisers as those dates in late spring and early fall, skirting summer vacation times for children, do better in review scores sans kids. Lower costs and overall crowds also contribute to higher satisfaction as does better weather and newer ships.
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