2013 Cruise Trends: Cruise Holidays Survey Reveals Europe Chipping Away at Caribbean's Popularity

Plus Other Cruise Trends Consumers Need To Know Before Booking a Cruise for 2013

December 26, 2012 // Franchising.com // Minneapolis, MN--With unprecedented demand for Mediterranean cruises, European river voyages and Baltic excursions, Europe has quickly become one of the cruise industry's premier destinations, according to findings by Cruise Holidays. Plus, while cruise prices to Europe remain relatively low, there are signs that pricing for the second half of 2013 may be on its way up - a positive sign for the cruise industry that leisure travelers are once again creating demand. With this in mind, travelers are advised to lock in their preferred itinerary at least eight months in advance. These are a few of the headlines from the 2013 Cruise Holidays Cruise Trends survey - which draws actual cruise pricing and booking statistics from more than 550 cruise specialists across North America.

2013 Cruise Pricing for Europe, Caribbean and Alaska

Cruise Holidays consistently studies pricing for three of the most popular cruise destinations and shares it via the Cruise Trends survey. Compared to bookings made in 2011 for 2012, sample pricing for a 12-day Mediterranean cruise for 2013 is lower by about $35 per person, per day. "However, keep in mind that this number reflects reservations that go back to early 2012, when demand may not have been as strong as it is now," said Mark Schiffner, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Cruise Holidays International. "Pricing for some of the premium and luxury cruise lines that many of our passengers favor is actually ahead of last year," continued Schiffner.

Caribbean pricing for a 7-day cruise is virtually the same as last year, and 7-day Alaska cruises are up about $20 per person, per day, compared to cruises booked in 2011 for 2012. These figures include all cruises booked by Cruise Holidays* as of December 17, 2012, sailing in 2013, aboard all cruise lines - from luxury to casual or "contemporary."

Top Cruise Destinations for 2013

The Caribbean remains the undisputed leader as a cruise destination for travelers globally. Here are the top 10 cruise destinations being booked for 2013 by Cruise Holidays cruise experts:

2013 Top Cruise Destinations

% of Bookings

'12 Rank

'11 Rank

1. Caribbean (includes Bahamas)

54.98%

1

1

2. Europe (includes River Cruises, Mediterranean, Baltic, Scandinavia & Greek Isles)

13.19%

2

2

3. Alaska

8.47%

3

3

4. Bermuda

4.61%

4

4

5. Hawaii

3.11%

5

7

6. (tie) Panama Canal

2.26%

6

8

6. (tie) Trans-Atlantic

2.26%

8

9

8. South Pacific (Including Australia)

1.82%

10

N/A

9. South America

1.61%

N/A

N/A

10. Maritime Canada & New England

1.52%

9

N/A

*The Bahamas ranked #6 in 2011, but were grouped with the Caribbean for this survey starting in 2011.

Top Cruise Destinations - Who's Gaining On the Caribbean

The top five cruise destinations remain unchanged from 2012 to 2013. However, the Caribbean's overall dominance fell slightly, from nearly 60% in 2012 to under 55% of total bookings for 2013 so far. The difference is made up by Europe taking a larger piece of the pie, climbing from 11% to 13% of the total, and Alaska climbing from 6.7% to 8.5%. Hawaii also inched up.

What's Up:

Trans-Atlantic sailings continue to gain favor - they are tied for sixth place this year. These cruises, which showcase the romance and steep traditions of cruising, made their debut in the Cruise Trends top 10 in 2011 at ninth place, and climbed to eighth place in 2012. South America joins the top 10 for the first time in at least four years. European river cruising is also the "hottest ticket in the industry," according to Schiffner, and contributes to Europe's strong showing this year.

While the top five cruise destinations did not cede their positions, cruise experts say there are still lessons to be learned: "While the Caribbean reigns, it does not rule," stated Schiffner. "Each year, newer, better, more spectacular ships enter the marketplace. While many of them make their debut in the Caribbean, we're seeing a strong enough demand in Europe that some of the crown jewels of the industry are plying European waters," observed Schiffner. For example, Celebrity Cruises' sophisticated new Reflection and Oceania Cruises' luxurious new mid-size ship, Riviera, will both feature European itineraries in 2013.

Combating the European Air Dilemma

Bookings for Europe remain strong despite concerns over high airfares. "When you couple the cost of the cruise, which is virtually an all-inclusive vacation, along with the airfare, you are looking at a vacation value that far exceeds what travelers to Europe could expect 20 years ago," said Schiffner.

Cruise Holidays cruise experts offered up several tips via the Cruise Trends survey that they routinely offer to their clients, such as:

  1. Advising clients to add more time on land pre or post-cruises to get more "bang for their buck" on the flight.
  2. Watching for cruise line offers such as 2-for-1 pricing in Europe, cruise line air deals, etc.
  3. Advising clients to be flexible on travel dates to take advantage of better airline prices.
  4. Leveraging Cruise Holidays' clout to obtain airline prices that might not be available online to consumers.
  5. Emphasizing the all-inclusiveness of a cruise.

262: The Magic Number

The magic number for booking a cruise prior to departure is 262 days out, or just under nine months. That's the average amount of time prior to their cruise that Cruise Holidays clients book their vacations. "We have some cruises booked for late 2014 that were booked quite early in 2012. We even have a small number of passengers already booked for 2015," said Schiffner.

Popular Cruise Itineraries Trump Price

While price is an important consideration in all vacation choices, the cruise itinerary continues to be the number one factor in locking in travelers' final vacation decisions. Here are the top five factors Cruise Holidays cruise experts hear from their customers regarding their reasons for taking a particular cruise:

  1. Itinerary
  2. Price
  3. Cruise line
  4. Embarkation Point
  5. Cruise Ship

Other factors include accommodations available, such as a suite, balcony, or concierge-level stateroom; amenities onboard the ship, such as specialty dining or surfing simulators; and shore excursions available.

*Data studied includes bookings from Cruise Holidays experts located in the United States and Canada, not Cruise Holidays locations in the United Kingdom and Australia.


Cruise Holidays®, the world's most far-reaching cruise-specialty retail franchise, features stores and virtual offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Cruise Holidays is also a distinguished provider of land tour vacation packages. Founded in 1984, Cruise Holidays is part of Travel Leaders Leisure Group.

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