PHOTO: The Caribbean continues to be a perennially popular cruise destination. (Photo via Flickr/cyril chermin)
Leisure travelers report increased demand for cruise vacations this year, according to travel survey data from Travel Leaders Group.
In the survey, nearly 87 percent of travel agent experts who book cruise vacations said their 2017 cruise bookings are equal to or higher than the previous year, and more than 84 percent said their Mediterranean cruise bookings have increased or on are par, year-over-year.
Actual booking data corroborates the survey results with year-over-year increases of eight percent or more reported for key cruise segments.
The survey data is based on responses from 1,062 Travel Leaders Group travel agents who book cruise vacations for their clientele. It’s part of a comprehensive travel trends survey of 1,689 U.S.-based travel agents from Travel Leaders Group’s flagship Travel Leaders brand, plus Al Aboard Travel, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network, and Tzell Travel Group.
Findings from the 2017 Travel Trends Survey can be found on their website.
According to the survey results, Western Caribbean cruises are the most popular itinerary being booked, followed by Alaska cruises, Eastern Caribbean cruises, European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises, respectively.
“Cruise bookings for 2017 have been on the upswing since last year, and a substantial percentage of our travel agents’ leisure bookings are in this crucial segment. In fact, our latest data show a 10 percent increase in year-over-year revenue for luxury cruise bookings, and premium cruise bookings are trending higher by eight percent,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.
“Our travel agents are continuously educating themselves—by first-hand experience and in-depth supplier training—to ensure they’re matching the right cruise line, ship and itinerary with each individual client’s expressed needs,” he added. “While it requires a significant investment of their time, the benefit is how they have established themselves as trusted resources for creating the ideal getaways for their clients.”
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Based on Travel Leaders Group’s 2017 Travel Trends Survey, these are the top cruise itineraries being booked:
Caribbean – Western
Caribbean – Eastern
Europe – River Cruise
Europe – Mediterranean
Caribbean – Southern
Europe – Baltic
“The allure of a Caribbean cruise is undeniable for millions of Americans. However, what’s truly impressive is the tremendous growth, over the past 24 months, in Alaska cruises. Consumer demand has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.
“Within Travel Leaders Network, we have nearly 850 travel agents who are specialists in Alaska cruises alone,” Lovell said. “Their expertise, coupled with cruise lines keeping up with the increased demand by deploying more ships, has allowed a record number of travelers to experience the breathtaking wonder of ‘The Last Frontier.’”
In other findings, 86.4 percent of respondents said their overall 2017 cruise bookings were higher than or the same as the year before.
Regarding Mediterranean cruise bookings this year, 84.5 percent of those polled said their bookings were even or higher than the previous year.
Agents who book Mediterranean cruises also identified the top itineraries their clients are selecting for Mediterranean cruises this year. Those polled could select up to three itineraries; the top responses included:
Barcelona to Rome
Rome to Barcelona
Rome to Venice
When asked to compare their overall European river cruise bookings, 78.2 of agents said they were on par with or higher than the previous year.
Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies, encompassing nearly one-third of all travel agents, and generates gross travel sales of approximately $21 billion.