The cruise industry has undoubtedly experienced a rocky few years, as the pandemic brought on declining interest in cruise vacations. However, the skies appear to be clearing up. Many consumers are now on board for cruises to combat high airfare prices and limited accommodation options. Additionally, reports show that interest in cruise travel is at an all-time high among Gen Z and Millennials, as these consumers view them as a good value for the money. 

According to current CivicScience data, 1-in-2 consumers are either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ interested in taking a cruise vacation, which has increased by eight percentage points since 2022 (from 42%). Interest levels jump among younger consumers. As of August, 69% of Gen Z aged 18-24 and 59% of younger Millennials aged 25-34 are at least ‘somewhat interested’ in cruising – far outpacing the percentage of individuals aged 55+ interested in cruises (40%). This hints that cruise lines must align offerings with younger demographics, given interest levels skew toward adults under 35. 

What does previous cruise experience look like?

When it comes to previous experience cruising, adults aged 55+ are unsurprisingly the most likely to say they’ve been on at least one cruise. Conversely, adults aged 45-54 are the least likely to have been on a cruise before. Similar to the above data, Gen Z respondents aged 18-24 express the highest interest in cruising for the first time (36%) – more than doubling the percentage of adults aged 55+ who would like to try one (14%). 

What are the top cruise destinations?

Among those who can foresee a cruise in their future, Alaska tops the list of areas U.S. adults say they are most interested in exploring (36%). This figure has jumped nearly 10 percentage points since February (28%), possibly due to the especially hot summer this year. Behind Alaskan cruises ranks Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises. 

However, a different story holds when looking at the data by age. Gen Z and Millennials are far less likely than older Americans to be interested in Alaskan cruises. Instead, they’re more likely to be interested in Caribbean cruises, as well as cruises in Asia, the Atlantic coast, and the Baltic Sea.

How do cruise lines rank?

Given varying interest levels among younger and older Americans when it comes to cruising, specifically adults aged 18-24 and 55+, CivicScience examined differences in cruise line experience among these two age groups. Data show that among those who’ve been on a cruise, Royal Caribbean cruises are most popular among Gen Z adults, whereas adults aged 55+ are most likely to have traveled with Carnival Cruises. Furthermore, Disney Cruise Lines has the most significant gap between age groups (Gen Z is 18 percentage points more likely to have traveled with them), followed by Carnival Cruises (adults 55+ are 13 percentage points more likely to have cruised with them).

Additional Cruise Insights

Given varying consumer preferences among generations, cruise lines must have a constant pulse on their current and potential customers. Additional analysis via the InsightStore uncovers unexpected insights about potential cruisers, as well as other key related findings: 

  • Cruise-goers are also movie-goers. Nearly one-quarter of those ‘very interested’ in going on a cruise (23%) report they go to the movies at least once a month (vs. 5% of non-cruisers who say the same). 
  • Those interested in going on a cruise are more than twice as likely as non-cruisers to say they use online review services such as Yelp weekly (23% vs. 9%).
  • Cruise interest levels vary by employment situation. Fully in-person workers are most likely to be ‘very interested’ in cruises, hybrid employees report the highest levels of interest overall, and remote workers are most likely to say they’re uninterested in cruise vacations. 
  • COVID-related anxieties are likely lessening when it comes to cruise vacations. Compared with last year, U.S. adults are 8 percentage points more likely to say they are ‘very comfortable’ with going on a cruise vacation right now. However, reports of norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships may still be keeping some people away.
  • Among those interested in going on a cruise, nearly three-quarters are most interested in departing from the U.S. compared to overseas. However, Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely than any other generation to prefer a cruise that departs from outside the U.S.

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