The cruise vacation experience gets high marks from consumers, CLIA’s 2011 Cruise Market Profile Study found, and so do travel agents, who continue to book the lion’s share of cruises.The study, released Aug. 9, found that 68% of cruise vacationers book through an agent vs. 45% of non-cruise vacationers, and 93% of cruisers express satisfaction with their agent.
Nearly 60% of cruisers said they were “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their agents.
CLIA said the percentage of consumers who booked through an agency was likely higher than the number cited, because some people might not realize that they made their online bookings through an agency website.
And 66% of consumers say professional designations encourage them to use an agent.
The study, conducted by TNS Global Market Research, surveyed about 1,300 past cruisers and non-cruisers to determine vacation preferences and attitudes, plans for future vacationing, spending patterns, agent usage and other topics, drawing comparisons among numerous types of vacations.
Market projections based on the current population and the study results suggest that in a U.S. population of 304 million, 73 million Americans have cruised before and 36.1 million are “likely” to take a cruise vacation in the next three years, CLIA said.
The core target market consists of adults age 25 and older with a household income of at least $40,000.
Consistent with previous years’ studies, the 2011 report found that 94% of consumers rate cruising as a satisfying vacation experience, and 45% rate a cruise as “extremely satisfying.”
Key influencers in selecting a cruise vacation include: the destination, 35%; the cost, 23%; the overall experience, 19%; the ship, 12%; and onboard facilities, 11%.
“Based on analysis of responses to the Cruise Market Profile Study, the cruise industry can be optimistic about its continued growth and success,” said Christine Duffy, CLIA’s president and CEO.
In other notable findings of the survey:
• 50% of noncruise vacationers expressed an interest in taking their first cruise within the next three years.
• The chance to visit multiple destinations on a cruise was cited by 56% of respondents as much better or somewhat better than other vacation categories.
• The Caribbean leads the Top 10 list of where consumers plan to take their next cruise vacation, followed by Alaska, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Bermuda, Mediterranean/Greek Isles, Europe, Panama Canal, Canada/New England and Mexico.
• Nearly one in four of the total U.S. population has cruised at some point in their lives, up from 20% in 2008.
• The median age of the 2011 cruise vacationer is 48, and the median household income is $97,000.