Survey: Caribbean still most popular cruise destination

Minneapolis, USA, May 31, 2006 – Despite recent comments from Carnival cruiselines of is intention to gradually move away from the Caribbean to more high-priced exotic destinations, a recent survey in the United States has shown that the Caribbean remains the most popular choice of cruisers.


Cruise Holidays — the oldest and largest cruise specialty retailer in North America — announced the results of the 2006 Cruise Holidays Travel Trends Survey and for the second year in a row, the Caribbean ranks as the top cruise destination. In addition, new industry trends reveal a growing interest in longer cruises and more exotic itineraries. This survey was conducted from March 20 – April 4, 2006, in the United States and Canada, with 86% of the Cruise Holidays network participating. The survey also found that cruising is increasingly appealing to a younger and wider audience. Mature travelers (those 55 and over) represent half or less of Cruise Holidays customers according to 63% of respondents, while families now make up between 31-70% of customers for over 40% of respondents.


“We’re pleased that the results confirm the anecdotal good news we’ve been hearing from our franchisees over the past several months,” said Peter Thomson, vice president and COO of Cruise Holidays. “While the Caribbean and Alaska continue to be favorite destinations, cruisers are looking for something new and different. They still want all that cruising has to offer, but are interested in exploring ports of call much further from home such as Europe, as well as emerging cruise destinations such as South America and Asia.”


Additionally, Thomson pointed to the extremely positive outlook Cruise Holidays stores have for the year ahead. “What differentiates Cruise Holidays is the level of cruise expertise that is recognized by our customers. In a year where most have conceded flat cruise sales, we’re proud that 77% of our franchisees told us that their bookings are even or up over last year and 95% said they are optimistic or satisfied about their business for the coming year.”


Top Cruise Destinations
Two distinct questions were asked regarding the top cruise destinations Cruise Holidays stores are booking in 2006. One question asks for the singular most popular destination being booked so far in 2006. The second question asked Cruise Holidays stores to name a total of the five most popular destinations their customers are booking this year. What is most interesting about the second question is that cruising in the Mediterranean is one of the five most popular destinations now being booked by over 84% of Cruise Holidays stores — up from a mere 54.5% last year. As with last year, the Caribbean and Alaska continue to be ranked one and two, respectively, on both questions.

Also noteworthy:



  • Itinerary and cruise line — as opposed to price — remain the two most important deciding factors when customers book a cruise
  • Favorite European port: Rome (followed by Venice)
  • Favorite Caribbean island or port: St. Thomas
  • Emerging destination: South America
  • Cruise Holidays stores are selling more 8-10 day (38% compared to 27% in 2005) and 11-14 day cruises (8% up from 3% last year)
  • The booking window for 92% of the respondents is four (4) months or longer; it is six (6) months or longer for 54%

The following represents the questions and answers received from 107 Cruise Holidays stores that participated in the 2006 Cruise Holidays Travel Trend Survey (unless otherwise noted):


What is the top cruise destination you are booking for 2006? (Select One)








































Ranking 2006 Destination 2005 Destination %
1 Caribbean 60.8 Caribbean (western) 44.6
2 Alaska 20.6 Caribbean (eastern) 18.8
3 Europe (Mediterranean) 5.6 Alaska 12.9
4 Mexican Riviera 5.6 Mexican Riviera 9.9
5 Hawaii 3.7 Europe (Mediterranean) 5.9

Please choose the FIVE most popular destinations you are booking so far for 2006:







































































Ranking Five Most Popular: 2006 Five Most Popular: 2006 %
1 Caribbean 95.3 Alaska 88.1
2 Alaska 90.7 Caribbean (western) 88.1
3 Europe (Mediterranean) 84.1 Caribbean (eastern) 83.2
4 Hawaii 58.9 Europe (Mediterranean) 54.5
5 Mexican Riviera 37.4 Caribbean (southern) 49.5
6 Panama Canal 30.8 Hawaii  33.7
7 Europe (Baltic) 28.0 Mexican Riviera 28.7
8 Bermuda  26.2 Bermuda  17.8
9 New England/Maritime Canada  8.4 Europe (Baltic) 15.8
10 Europe (River Cruise) 7.5 Panama Canal 10.9

What is the top Caribbean itinerary you are booking for 2006?





















Ranking Caribbean Itinerary
1 Western 45.8
2 Eastern 38.3
3 Southern 15.9

Most popular Caribbean island / port of call to visit via cruising. (Write-in response from 101 stores)





























Ranking Caribbean Port %
1 St. Thomas 51.5
2 Grand Cayman 18.8
3 Cozumel 7.9
4 Aruba 5.9
5 Private Island* 4.0
* Many cruise lines now have their own individual “private islands” scattered in the Caribbean.

For your customers cruising in Europe, please name the most popular port of call. (Write-in response from 105 stores)





























Ranking European Port %
1 Rome 34.3
2 Venice 25.7
3 Greece/Greek Is. 12.4
4 Barcelona 11.4
5 St. Petersburg 5.7

What is an emerging destination / itinerary with your customers? (Write-in response from 96 stores)





























Ranking Destination
1 South America 22
2 Asia  12
3 Hawaii  12
4 Mexico  7
5 { Europe (Mediterranean)
{ South Pacific/Tahiti
6

Comparing your 2006 bookings so far to your 2005 bookings at this time last year, which is true? (Based on 95 stores for 2006; removed 12 N/A which are new stores to the system)

























Ranking Sentiments 2006 %  2005 %
1 They are higher 56 51
2 They are even 21 24
3 They are lower 23 25

Which of the following do you hear most often from your customers regarding their reasons for taking a particular cruise vacation?

















































Ranking Choice

%

1 Particular itinerary 89.7
2 Particular cruise line 85.1
3 Price 80.4
4 Accommodations – i.e. type of room 38.3
5 Particular embarkation point 32.7
6 Particular cruise ship 29.0
7 Group space 23.4
8 Amenities – i.e. spa, gym or fitness classes, dining, onboard activities 15.0
9 Excursions 7.5
10 Other 4.67

Regarding 2006 bookings to date, what trends have you noticed?





















































Ranking Trends in booking

%

1 Clients are feeling more confident about traveling farther from home 65.4
2 Europe bookings are up over last year 55.1
3 Clients are spending more per vacation 52.3
4 A majority of my bookings include arranged transfers 51.4
5 Less than half of my bookings are luxury or upscale cruises 49.5
6 A majority of my bookings include airfare 37.4
7 Caribbean bookings are up over last year 29.0
8 A majority of my bookings include pre / post hotel 19.6
9 Mexico bookings up are over last year 17.8
10 More than half of my bookings are luxury or upscale cruises 9.4
10 A majority of my bookings include shore excursions 9.4

What is the average length of cruise vacations you’ve been booking for 2006?








































Ranking Length of Cruise

2006

2005
1 6-7 days 52 68
2 8-10 days 38 27
3 11-14 days 8.0 3.0
4 Over 14 days 1.0 1.0
5 4-5 days 1.0 1.0
6 Less than 4 days 0.0 0.0

What is the average length of the booking window (time between bookings and actual sail date)?

































Ranking Booking Window Length

%

1 6-8 months 43.0
2 4-5 months 38.0
3 1-3 months 8.0
4 9-11 months 8.0
5 More than 11 months 3.0
6 Less than one month .0

What is your personal outlook on your business for the coming year?








































Ranking Business Outlook

2006 %

2005 %
1 Very optimistic 21.0 28.0
2 Fairly optimistic 57.0 49.0
3 TOTAL OPTIMISTIC 78.0 77.0
4 Neither optimistic nor pessimistic 17.0 15.0
5 Very pessimistic 1.0 1.0
6 TOTAL PESSIMISTIC 5.0 8.0

What percentage of bookings are mature travelers (55 and over)?

              Respondents   Frequency
91-100% 1 0.93%
81-90% 2 1.87%
71-80% 8 7.48%
61-70% 13 12.15%
51-60% 16 14.95%
41-50% 23 21.50%
31-40% 25 23.36%
21-30% 13 12.15%
11-20% 4 3.74%
10% or less 2 1.87%

What percentage of bookings are families?

                      Respondents   Frequency
91-100% 5 4.67%
81-90% 0 0.00%
71-80% 7 6.54%
61-70% 3 2.80%
51-60% 13 12.15%
41-50% 14 13.08%
31-40% 14 13.08%
21-30% 27 25.23%
11-20% 16 14.95%
10% or less 8 7.48%