Cruise ship vacations are having a moment. In December 2023, Royal Caribbean made headlines when its 9-month, around-the-world cruise set sail. Since then, the cruise has been in the spotlight, with various passengers going viral on TikTok as they share their below-deck experiences. Does the buzz surrounding cruises represent a growing interest in cruise ship vacations in 2024? 

As the data show, interest is up this year, with 59% of U.S. adults reporting that they are at least ‘somewhat’ interested in taking a cruise vacation. This echoes the continued upward trend we’ve seen since 2022, when 42% of Americans were interested. According to the data, the turning point – when interest outweighed disinterest – can be seen in July of 2023, a few months before the departure of the 9-month Royal Caribbean cruise.

Take Our Poll: Is a cruise your ideal vacation scenario?

Currently, 25- to 34-year-olds are the most interested overall in cruise vacations (74%), followed by the 18-24 crowd (70%) – a reversal of the trend seen last summer. It’s also worth noting that those who are most interested in taking a cruise vacation spend the most amount of time on social media each day. These two data points may provide additional context for the virality of cruise vacations such as the 9-month Royal Caribbean cruise, with so many younger Americans potentially living vicariously through their screens.

Americans Await the Open Ocean 

Beyond the basics of who is interested, it’s important to understand where exactly these potential cruise-goers plan to go, and for how long. Despite the trendiness of the 9-month cruise, a majority of Americans (58%) say their ideal amount of time on board is 1-2 weeks. Just 7% would take a cruise trip for longer than a month.

Of those interested in going on a cruise, over three-fourths of Americans (76%) would prefer to depart from a port within the U.S., and 61% would prefer an ocean to a river cruise. 

As it stands, Americans are most interested in going to the Caribbean, with 34% of interested adults indicating this as the area they would most like to explore via a cruise. Coming in second is Alaska (25%), with the Mediterranean a distant third (10%). Given Americans’ preferences for U.S. departure ports and a 1-2 week travel time frame, these destination preferences continue to affirm and strengthen those choices.

Carnival Cruise Line Reigns Supreme 

There are, of course, no shortage of options when it comes to cruise lines to choose from. And while Royal Caribbean continues to draw attention toward its trending cruise, it’s not the only company garnering interest. Carnival Cruise Line has surpassed Royal Caribbean as the cruise line operator with the most Americans interested in sailing with them. After Royal Caribbean are Disney and Princess cruises.

So, as Royal Caribbean has seen, social media is certainly one way to gain the attention – and interest – of potential cruise-goers. However, the data offers the reminder that it’s far from the only way. 

Join the Conversation: If you were to go on a cruise ship, would you want to go on a tropical cruise or a cold-climate cruise? 🚢

There is no denying the fact that the cruise industry is making a splash. Combine the 14% of Americans who have definite plans to take a cruise in the next 12 months, with the 31% of Americans who have never been on a cruise but who would like to go on one, added with the sustained and growing interest from younger adults, and the power of social media virality, and you’ve got a rising tide that shows no sign of receding. 

This could be a very new era of cruise vacations. The only question is, which companies will rise to the occasion and meet new customers’ needs as they set sail? 

Get even deeper insights into the travel and tourism industry. Contact us to see how the CivicScience InsightStore™ can help brands navigate the changing consumer landscape with forward-looking data.

If you’re a reporter looking for insights for your content, contact us here