The Gist: Interest in cruises is strong, especially from Millennials and those who earn less than $50k a year. Additionally, cruise vacations appeal to both those who want to get out of the house and those who prefer to stay home.
When it comes to vacations, cruises are having a moment. In recent years, cruises have gotten considerable attention as a cure-all for the stressed out worker in need of a few days of reprieve, the family seeking quality time together, or the retired couple looking for an accessible and relaxing adventure. Cruise lines are constantly redefining themselves in an effort to get ahead of the trends and outpace their competitors. It seems like, no matter who you are, you can likely find a cruise tailored to your needs. So, what do cruise-goers really want? If you’re on board, let’s dive in.
To start things off, we asked U.S. adults about their experience with cruising in general.
Right off the bat, we can see that although 47% of US adults have never been and don’t plan to go on a cruise, a very strong 21% have never been, but plan to go, and 21% have been and plan to go again. In general, those who have had or hope to have positive cruise experiences are the majority. Clearly, the hype around cruise vacations is not without substance.
We then took a look at cruise experience by age group.
When we look at the numbers, it becomes pretty evident that Baby Boomers (those closest to retirement and often considered the most frequent cruise-going group) are not, in fact, the group most likely to be regular cruisers. Generation X, as it turns out, makes up 41% of those who have been on a cruise and plan to go again. Baby Boomers come in second with 31% and Millennials come in third at 28%.
Although they are the smallest percentage, we should acknowledge that 28% is a very solid showing from Millennials–an age group not readily associated with the cruise scene. And if we take a look down at the interested category, Millennials are 44% of that bunch. So while they may not currently be the most frequent cruisers, they are far and away the most interested.
To gauge disinterest in cruise ships, we can take a look at the second level of the graph, where we see that of those who have been on a cruise but do not want to go again, Baby Boomers make up 43%. Can you hear the cruise-retirement-theory crashing down around you? Me too.
Since money talks, we took a look at income in relation to this question, to see what it had to say.
Of those who have been on cruises and plan to go again, 41% make more than $100K a year. So, yes, in some cases, cruises do cater to the more well-off among us. However, of those who haven’t been, but who are interested, the largest group is the 45% who make less than $50k a year. This number could correlate to the interest from Millennials, who are likely not making quite as much as their older counterparts.
While cruises are often considered the perfect family-friendly vacation, appealing to those who may be interested in a multi-generational escape, our data tells us it may be more complicated than that.
A strong representation of both parents and non-parents alike either have plans to take a cruise again or are interested in taking their first one. A high number of cruisers may actually be enjoying (or attempting to enjoy) child-free vacations. There’s a good chance the cruise industry is catching onto this preference, as some companies have created adults-only cruises for this very demographic.
So we have an idea of who is cruising, but can we understand why? We discovered that those who regularly cruise are more likely to be night owls and also more likely to never drink. So what’s the appeal? The answer could be as simple and shockingly straightforward as this: to see the world.
As it turns out, for most, the cruise may not be about the endless food, spirits or onboard activities. Of those who have never been on a cruise, but are interested, 66% have never left North America.
Our data further support the notion that the cruise offers the ultimate getaway experience, especially for those who may be feeling confined at home. Of those US adults who are interested in a cruise vacation, 35% report that their desire to leave the house has increased in the past six months.
And yet, there is something else interesting in this graph. Take a look at the top level, our frequent cruisers. Of those who have been on a cruise and plan to go again, 35% report a decreased interest in leaving the house over the past six months.
It would seem that cruises are attracting both those who want to get out while maintaining a loyal following from those who want to stay at home. How could this be? The answer may not be so complicated, after all. Cruise vacations offer the best of both. For those who want to explore, there are plenty of activities to do both on the ship and at each port of call. For those who want to stay home, a cruise is almost like being at home on the water. Everything you need is right there.
Clearly, cruises are appealing to a wide range of vacationers with a variety of desires. However, Millennials and under $50k income earners are some of the most interested groups. If Millennials are leading the way in cruise interest, cruise companies should take note. Special deals or more budget-friendly options paired with activities catered to the younger adult crowd could encourage Millennial cruise hopefuls to buy their ticket to paradise.