The Latest Cruise Trends Heading Into the Holidays


Cruising Preferences Ahead of the Holidays

Online cruise marketplace CruiseCompete has released its CruiseTrends report for October 2021, revealing the most coveted cruise lines, ships, ports, destinations and other preferences based on actual consumer quote requests and transactions. Consumers request an average of more than 25,000 cruise quotes per month via CruiseCompete so the latest report paints a reliable picture of what cruise passengers are seeking heading into the holiday season.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas at Labadee, the cruise line's private destination.

Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean International continues to be the most popular premium cruise line, followed by fellow Royal Caribbean Group subsidiary Celebrity Cruises. Norwegian Cruise Line is trending up this fall, overtaking Carnival Cruise Line for third in the premium category. In the luxury segment, Oceania Cruises continues to lead the way, edging out Crystal Cruises and Cunard Line. American Cruise Lines remains the most popular river cruise line this October while American Queen Steamboat Company and AmaWaterways rank second and third, respectively. 

Crystal Symphony sailing out of New York City.

Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are the two most popular premium cruise ships right now based on the total number of quote requests. Royal Caribbean has a total of seven ships in the top 10 but Celebrity Edge managed to rank third in popularity. Leading luxury cruise line Oceania boasts four ships among the top 10 most popular in its category, including second-ranked Oceania Vista. However, it’s Crystal Cruises with two ships in the top three, including first-ranked Crystal Symphony and third-place Crystal Serenity. In the river cruise category, U.S-based ships dominate the list, with American Queen, Queen of the Mississippi and America leading the way in October. 

Carnival Cruise Line ships docked at PortMiami

Cruise Ports

South Florida is one of the most popular regions to depart from, with Fort Lauderdale and Miami being the top departure ports for premium cruise passengers ahead of Port Canaveral. Miami ranks first in popularity among luxury travelers, edging out Southampton, England and Barcelona. Meanwhile, Amsterdam is the most popular river cruise departure port as of October 2021 followed by New Orleans and Basel, Switzerland. When it comes to the most popular ports to visit, premium cruise passengers want plenty of sunshine, typically opting for Cozumel, Nassau and Royal Caribbean’s private island destination Perfect Day at CocoCay. Travelers eyeing a luxury sailing are most interested in Sicily; Kusadasi, Turkey and Philipsburg, Sint Maarten while river cruise guests have their sights set on Cologne, Germany and Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi.

Adventure of the Seas arrives at Nassau June 8, 2021

Regions and Countries

Premium cruise passengers are most excited about the Caribbean, followed by North and Central America while luxury and river cruise guests have shown the most interest in Europe. The Caribbean and Mediterranean are also popular with luxury travelers while river cruise customers are seeking out North America and the Mediterranean after Europe. When it comes to the most popular countries visited, the Bahamas takes the crown in the premium segment, followed by Mexico and the United States. Unsurprisingly, European destinations dominate the list for luxury travelers, with Italy ranking first, followed by the U.S., Greece, Spain, France, Portugal and Turkey. River cruise guests are showing the most interest in the U.S. but are very much intrigued by countries across the Atlantic, including Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Portugal, Slovakia and Bulgaria. 

Cruise ship balconies

Cabin Type and Itinerary Length

No surprises here. Balcony staterooms continue to be the most popular cabin type across all three cruise segments. Premium and river cruise guests otherwise request an inside or outside cabin while luxury passengers are more likely to seek out a suite. Seven nights continues to be the most popular cruise itinerary length heading into the holiday season. However, premium cruise guests who forgo a week-long sailing are more likely to take a shorter five-day trip while luxury travelers tend to pursue longer voyages of 14 or 10 nights. Similarly, river cruise passengers prefer trips of eight or 10 nights if setting sail for longer than seven nights. 

Travel insurance policy documents

Travel Insurance and Booking Windows

Cruise passengers are not quite as interested in purchasing travel insurance compared to this past summer. According to the latest CruiseTrends report, only 18 percent of premium guests indicated that they would like to protect their trip. That figure was slightly higher for luxury and river cruise passengers, with 22 percent of those travelers requesting travel insurance. Unlike interest in travel insurance, booking windows—the average number of days between the date the cruise was booked and the date it sails—vary significantly between segments, CruiseComplete found. The booking window for premium cruise guests is 180 days compared to 315 days for luxury passengers and 291 days for river cruise guests. Click here to view the complete CruiseTrends report for October 2021.


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