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CLIA agents confirm adventure-cruise appeal, greater cruise spending

PHOTO: Windstar Cruises
Kayaking in Alaska's Kenai Fjords
Travelers are spending more and embarking on 'bucket list' river cruise adventures and new cruise destinations, according to three-quarters of the travel agents polled in the latest outlook report for Cruise Lines International Association.

Alaska leads

Sixty-two percent of the agents surveyed revealed increased Alaska cruise sales, with some agents reporting an uptick in multigenerational travel to the state. Other destinations where their clients plan to sail include the Caribbean/Bermuda/Mexico (41%), Mediterranean/Europe (36%) and Canada/New England (36%).

Agents are also seeing a spike in interest from adventure-seekers. Alaska is the top destination for adventure or expedition travel with nearly eight of 10 (78%) travelers choosing the region as their destination when booking adventure travel. Other adventuresome destinations of choice include the Gal√°pagos Islands (59%), the South Pacific (51%) and Antarctica (43%).

More than a third of agents report that travelers ages 40-49 (39%) and 30-39 (43%) have expressed increased interest in adventure travel over the last two years. Older demographics are getting in on the action too: 34% of agents are seeing greater interest in adventure travel from cruisers ages 50-59 and nearly a quarter (24%) from ages 60-69.

Spending soars

According to the CLIA poll, travelers are spending more on cruises. Three-quarters (75%) of agents surveyed reported an increase in cruiser spending, such as adding more land-based excursions, as well as pre- and post-cruise experiences.

The window for booking travel has lengthened, too. Nearly half (49%) of respondents are seeing an increase in travelers booking within a nine- to 12-month window and 44% say there is in an increase in bookings 12 to 18 months out.

River cruise boom

River cruises continue to rise in popularity with a booming 75% of agents reporting more bookings.

Six of 10 agents are seeing an upswing in client requests for mega-ships, especially from those wishing to travel on a brand-new ship. Agents also say there is growing interest for large ships (53%), mid-sized ships (52%) and ocean liners (48%).

When it comes to cruising, travelers are looking for a few things: unique and exclusive experiences (92%), exotic itineraries (90%), wildlife (87%), enrichment and education (84%) and thrills (61%).

Poll based on CLIA agent panel

The data and research for the agent outlook are based on online survey responses from the CLIA Travel Agent Research Panel, which consists of 1,300 North American travel agents.

The full report is here.

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