Alaska cruises are most booked US vacations, survey finds

Travel Leaders Group’s travel advisers frequently recommend Alaska as a not-to-be-missed travel experience. Here, a Princess Cruises ship in Glacier Bay Travel Leaders Group’s travel advisers frequently recommend Alaska as a not-to-be-missed travel experience. Here, a Princess Cruises ship in Glacier Bay (Photo: Princess Cruises)

Alaska cruises jumped to the top spot from last year’s fifth place to become the most booked domestic vacation for 2018, according to findings from Travel Leaders Group’s 2018 Travel Trends Survey.

Orlando was bumped down a notch to second place. Las Vegas, Maui and New York City rounded out the Top 5.

Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while European river cruises edged up one place to third. Mediterranean cruises and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Top 'up and coming' destinations include Iceland, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. Additionally, of the respondents who book travel to the Caribbean, 45.6% said their 2018 bookings to the Caribbean are about even with last year, while 13.3% said their bookings to the Caribbean are higher. When it comes to Caribbean cruises, 71.7% said these bookings are either higher than or equal to last year’s bookings.

'It is important to note that interest in the Caribbean, whether it is a cruise or land-based travel, remains high,' said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. 'Cruising overall, whether it’s to the Caribbean, a European river cruise or a cruise in the Mediterranean, is a popular vacation pick for Americans due to the multiple destinations one can visit, along with the tremendous value and convenience cruises offer.'

Alaska cruises have been among the top 10 domestic trips booked by Travel Leaders Group travel advisers over the last several years, but this is the first year they have reached the No. 1 spot in the annual Travel Trends Survey. According to Cruise Lines International Association, 1,089,700 passengers cruised in Alaska last year, and that number is projected to grow another 7% to 1,165,500 passengers in 2018.

Chacko said Travel Leaders Group’s travel advisers frequently recommend Alaska as a not-to-be-missed travel experience, especially for those interested in scenery, wildlife and expedition travel.

Chacko added that optimism among Travel Leaders Group agents with respect to their travel business is at 'the highest level we’ve seen this decade.'

Based on actual bookings and consumer inquiries, Travel Leaders Group agents weighed in on how optimistic they are for their business in 2018. Some 87.1% were optimistic, up from 81.1% in 2017. Ten percent were neither optimistic nor pessimistic, and just 2.7% were pessimistic.

Based on actual booking data, Travel Leaders Group’s survey was conducted over two months from Dec. 20 to Feb. 19, with responses from 1,355 North American-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand and Travel Leaders Group’s All Aboard Travel, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Travel Leaders Corporate and Tzell Travel Group units.

Posted 15 March 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review