A new survey by CLIA and J.D. Power suggests that not only is the cruise industry bigger than ever, it’s only growing—and that should boost the confidence of travel agents everywhere.
The survey, released on Thursday, questioned 500 consumers who earned more than $50,000 and had taken a vacation within the last three years.
According to the report, the industry is now more popular than ever, and more travelers have a positive view of cruising. And with most bookings made through travel agents (TMR’s Cruise Report Card shows at least 80% of bookings are made from agents among all cruise lines), it’s a great time for everyone in the industry.
“A travel agent’s role has never been more important,” CLIA president and CEO Cindy D’Aoust told TMR.
The report also suggests that efforts by travel agents and cruise lines to reach out to the public appear to have paid off. Almost two-third (64%) of the survey’s respondents said their overall awareness of cruise vacations has increased in the past two years and 30% said their awareness of cruising and ship-based excursions has increased “greatly” over the past four months alone.
Meanwhile, only 6% of the 500 respondents said they have an unfavorable view towards cruising, down by almost half from 11% just four months ago.
It’s not just on the oceans, either. River cruising is seeing a rise as well, with 30% of respondents saying they are interested in small-ship river cruising (compared with 50% in ocean cruising).
“With this greater awareness and more positive outlook of cruising comes a greater responsibility for the agent, to make sure that those new-to-cruise customers have a cruise experience that aligns with their expectations,” D’Aoust told TMR. “Today, the role of a travel professional is about being a match maker.”
Interestingly, travelers are more and more willing to stay close to home to secure a better value for their money. Six out of every 10 people interested in a cruise know there are sailings out of ports close enough for them to drive to (within 500 miles) and more than half are willing to do so to save money. That includes ports along the West Coast, and in Florida, Canada, New England and New York.
All the data from the report is available on the CLIA website. Statistics will be updated on the website each quarter “to reflect the current behaviors and attitude of cruising.”