Washington, D.C. – After nearly three years of challenges and uncertainty, cruise lines are gearing up for a strong year with travel demand rising and Americans eager to set sail.
A new AAA survey finds 52% of U.S. adults are just as likely or more likely to consider taking a cruise vacation as they were before the pandemic. That number is up from 45% one year ago.
“Cruising is back in a big way. We expect a lot more people to book cruises in 2023 as several new ships have entered the market,” says Paula Twidale, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel. “We already saw this in November which proved to be a record-breaking month for cruise bookings. For many cruise companies, Black Friday was the single largest booking day in history.”
Contemporary, family-friendly, and luxury cruises top the list of most popular ships among people who are likely to go on a cruise this year, according to AAA’s survey. But smaller, more intimate ships are gaining popularity, like river cruises which offer personalized itineraries and port-centric experiences.
Cost and health and safety concerns are two reasons holding some people back from taking a cruise. Twidale says travel agents can help clarify cruising misconceptions and identify the ship that fits your needs.
“There is something for everyone when selecting a cruise vacation. AAA travel agents are skilled at finding the cruise that meets your budget and expectations,” adds Twidale. “Cruise lines have undertaken extensive measures to promote health and safety onboard, so you can expect attention to detail and cleanliness. In the case of unexpected illness, they have protocols in place to isolate passengers as they recuperate.”
5 Mistakes People Make When Booking Cruises
Forgoing a travel agent and travel insurance – Travel agents are experts who can help you select the cruise line, ship, and itinerary that best fits your lifestyle, budget, and interests. They have access to the same pricing as booking through a cruise line directly but can provide additional savings, onboard credit, complimentary gratuities, and other amenities you won’t get from booking on your own. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind if plans change. Without it, you could be on the hook for 100% of your trip if you must cancel unexpectedly. Insuring your trip allows you to breathe a little easier, knowing your travel investment is protected.
Delaying booking in hopes of getting a deal – Think you’ll get a better deal at the last minute? Think again! Cruises can be booked as far as two years in advance. Waiting too long can result in the cruise or stateroom category you want being sold out. With lower stateroom inventory as the sailing date approaches, many cruise lines actually increase prices closer to the sailing date. Book early to get the specific cruise and stateroom you want.
Waiting to book shore excursions or onboard dining and shows – Putting off booking a shore excursion is risky because the most popular tours may be sold out by the time you’re on board. The same goes for certain restaurants or shows. Often, cruise lines will offer lower prices for shore excursions booked in advance. That’s another way travel agents can help. They can guide you through the pre-cruise process and assist with those types of reservations.
Flying in on the day of sailing – Weather delays or mechanical issues can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare if you are flying in on the day you are sailing. The stress of possibly missing your cruise is not the way to start a relaxing trip. Fly in a day early and enjoy an evening at your port of embarkation before setting sail.
Picking a cruise based solely on price – There are cruise lines for all types of budgets. A wise person once said a cheap vacation could be an expensive mistake. To save money, you might book a cruise that doesn’t offer the onboard experience you hoped for. Travel agents can be invaluable in this area because they can match your interests with your budget while laying out exactly what you can expect at different price points.
5 Biggest Myths about Cruising
I will be bored – A cruise can be as active or as relaxing as you want it to be. From basketball and pickleball to rock climbing walls and surfing simulators, large ships have amenities galore. At night, end your day with Broadway-style shows, solo acts, movies, casinos, or nightclubs. Expedition cruises are all about the destination and focus on the great outdoors. For travelers looking to take in the sights and sounds of a breathtaking city, European river cruises, for example, offer port-centric activities that immerse passengers in the local culture.
I will get seasick – Cruise ships have stabilizers to minimize the ship’s motion as much as possible. If you’re taking a river cruise, you’re less likely to get motion sick. But travelers who are extra sensitive can take medications like Dramamine, use acupressure bracelets, or wear seasickness patches behind the ear.
I will have to wear formal clothes – The days of wearing a tuxedo or cocktail dress in the evening are over unless you want to go all out! Most cruise lines have adopted a resort casual dress code. Depending on your mood, you can opt for a more relaxed look or put on something special for a romantic night out.
The only activities on a cruise are eating and drinking – It’s no secret that cruises are known for buffets, room service, all-day pizza bars, and burgers by the pool. But there are plenty of other things to do, like hanging out at the pool, going on offshore excursions, watching live entertainment, taking a fitness class, or treating yourself to a spa service.
Cruise ships are only for older crowds – Today’s cruises are popular with people of all ages and offer a fantastic vacation for families, groups of friends, and honeymooners. Kids have their own dedicated space and activities to keep them entertained, while young adults can take advantage of endless sports and activities onboard. Adults can enjoy a wine tasting or spa treatment, and all ships offer quiet corners for reading, relaxing, and even napping.
Top Cruise Destinations for 2023
The survey was conducted December 2nd-4th, 2022 using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall.
Consumers without internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,070 interviews were completed among U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial, and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 63 million members across North America, including over 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com