Let’s Get Technical
River Cruising and Alaska Are Hot
iver Cruises are currently one the hottest trends in cruising, drawing a significant number of first-timers, and Alaska continues to be the top growth destination for cruising a third year in a row, according to the new Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Nearly four out of five travel agents (79 percent) stated a river cruise is a great way to introduce “new to cruise” travelers to cruising. Agents further remarked that river cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion and a relaxed way to see Europe. As a result, Europe is seeing an uptick in popularity. Demand for river cruises has grown 53 percent year-over-year to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe), 30 percent to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) and 24 percent to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po). “The results of last quarter’s survey were no surprise,” reports Rob Huffman, vice president, sales, USA, Scenic Group. “We’ve seen tremendous growth for both of our river cruise brands—
22 SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
Scenic and Emerald Waterways—on the traditional European routes like the Danube, as well as on newer routes like the Douro.” In other report findings, more than four out of five travel agents (84 percent) stated bookings are up when compared to last year. Additionally, 83 percent reported spending is up, as well. More than a quar-
ter of agents (28 percent) reported clients are spending greater than 10 percent more than one year ago. Alaska has been consistently the top growth destination for the last three years of the report. More than two-thirds of travel agents (67 percent) reported seeing
increased interest in the Northern-most U.S. state. CLIA said Alaska has gained an even wider margin than in the past. “Alaska is selling like crazy right now, and families are liking the big ships traveling to Alaska,” reports Amy Madson of Cruise Inc. Some cruise destinations have seen a double-digit spike in interest from just a year ago. In the Mediterranean, interest has jumped from 25 percent to 42 percent over the past year. Interest in South America has grown from nine percent last year to 20 percent today. Overwhelmingly, travel agents stated the most beneficial attribute for travel clients is the ability to provide valuable experience and product knowledge (86 percent). Agents also reported another travel agent benefit is the ability to leverage relationships and expertise if something goes wrong (81 percent). The Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report is a quarterly study conducted by CLIA. The data and research are compiled based upon online survey responses from the CLIA Travel Agent Research Panel, which consists of 1,300 travel agents from North America.