North American Cruisers Stay Close to Home
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its most recent Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report, highlighting that more than 80 percent of travel agents say their cruise volume has increased in 2017 and three-quarters say their clients are spending more this year on cruise tourism.
North American travelers tend to gravitate toward Western Hemisphere destinations. Alaska is currently seeing the most growth (51 percent), followed by Caribbean/Bermuda/Mexico (42 percent) and Canada/New England (31 percent). Staying closer to home could offer some degree of comfort, according to several agents. “People are concerned about safety but still want to explore new places,” says one travel professional, “so Alaska has become bigger overall. I am featuring Alaska more as a potential destination and making sure it is on my clients’ radar.”
Value and service are the most important factors in driving cruise guest satisfaction, according to travel agents. Almost all customers (98 percent) say service is “very” or “extremely” important to their guest satisfaction, and (96 percent) report the same about value. These factors are followed by comfort (94 percent) and amenities/activities and destination (90 percent).
Less important, but still essential, price transparency (83 percent), return on experience (81 percent), culinary options (80 percent) and security (79 percent). Entertainment (67 percent) and enrichment opportunities (47 percent) scored lowest, but still provide value for some travelers.
A majority of travel agents say their clients are becoming more interested in expedition or adventure travel than in years past. Travelers are looking for exploration, something new and “out of the box.” Interest isn’t coming from just one type of traveler. It comes from friend groups (62 percent), couples (61 percent), solo travelers (50 percent) and multi-generation groups (46 percent). Agents in adventure report 76 percent “more” or “some” interest in Alaska, 49 percent in the Galapagos Islands and 33 percent in the South Pacific.