AAA Cruise Bookings In Florida Surges 20 Percent So Far This Year, Among Most Popular Vacations
By Space Coast Daily // April 26, 2017
industry expects record number of passengers
(AAA) – The cruise industry is already making waves in 2017 as AAA cruise bookings in Florida increased 20 percent compared to the same period last year.
“Cruises are already one of the most popular vacations booked through AAA, and this year they are dominating the market,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“One of the reasons we attribute such a surge in bookings is the result of pent-up demand from 2016, due to health and economic concerns. Now it seems people’s minds have reset with the new year and travelers are stretching their sea legs.”
New Ships Increase Capacity; Record-setting Number of Cruise Passengers Expected
More people are forecast to board a cruise this year than ever before. The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) forecasts a record-setting 25.3 million people will board an ocean liner worldwide, which is a 4.5 percent increase from last year.
CLIA attributes the growth to larger capacity, new builds, more local ports and destinations, and new onboard/onshore activities that match demands of consumers.
In a AAA Consumer Pulse survey of Florida travelers, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) plan to take an ocean or large-ship cruise this year, while 5 percent plan to take a river cruise.
“The cruise industry is in a constant state of change, in hopes of attracting first-time and repeat cruisers,” Evans said.
“Every year, cruise lines unveil new ships that are bigger and better than their predecessors. Some of the newest ships offer onboard activities like bumper cars, skydiving, ice skating, and rock climbing. So there really is something for everyone, and you do not have to leave the ship to find it.”
Top Cruise Destinations, based on AAA bookings, are in order, Ocean Cruises River Cruises, Europe, Caribbean, Alaska, Canada/New England, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Mississippi River, Southeast Asia, Africa and Egypt.
Where are they going?
Ocean cruises have always been the most popular form of cruising for families and young adults, however AAA travel agents have noted surging demand for river cruising this year.
“Europe is a hot cruise destination this year, because the Euro has lost value and many travelers who have already visited the Caribbean and Alaska, are looking for new destinations to explore,” Evans said.
“Many Travelers prefer visiting Europe on a cruise, because it is a convenient way to visit several countries in a single trip, while only having to check-in and unpack once. Some of the most popular European cruises this year are to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. While there are a wealth of options for cruisers who want to visit Europe, river cruises are popular in this region, because the atmosphere is more intimate and the ships visit interior countries where the waters are too shallow or narrow for big ocean liners.”
When are they going?
The summer is always a popular season for cruisers and this year is no exception. AAA has also noted strong growth in bookings for the year-end holiday season, which is unusual to see this early in the year.
“Cruising during the holidays is extremely popular, because the kids are out of school and the whole family can travel together without having to worry about cooking or cleaning up,” said Evans.
“Holiday and summer cruises are often fully booked. The price for these cruises will only get higher as availability shrinks. So Floridians thinking about taking a cruise this year, should book now in order to get the best rate.”
Top Tips for Booking a Cruise
• Book early. The longer you wait, the more likely you will find rising prices as cabins fill-up. Many cruise lines are now accepting bookings though spring 2017.
• Book with a travel agent. They have relationships with cruise lines, earning them access to exclusive offers. The perks can vary to include discounted rates, priority check-in, specialty dining, hundreds of dollars in on-board credits, discounted or exclusive excursions, even a complimentary bottle of champagne. Plus, travel agents become the travelers’ advocate. For example, if the travel agent notices that the price of your cruise declines after you booked it, they can go back and lock-in the lower rate.
• Check reviews before booking by either talking to a travel agent or reading travelers’ personal reviews
• Bundle various vacation elements. Many cruise lines offer special rates for those who combine purchases for air, hotel, and/or transportation to and from the ship, in addition to the price of their cruise.
• Book shore excursions directly through your travel agent when you book your cruise; do not wait until you get to your destination or onboard as many popular activities sell out quickly.
Fly to your embarkation port the day before the cruise, not the morning of departure. Cruise ships have firm departure times and won’t wait for delayed flights.
• Check-in online before leaving for your cruise. This will save you a lot of extra time at the cruise ship terminal.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 56 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
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