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Cruise vacations are booming, especially premium, luxury and river cruises. As a result, donâ€™t wait any longer to search for voyages for this summer. To get the cruise lines, ships, itineraries and cabins, you want, think about booking your 2018 sailings soon.
So far, cruise bookings in 2017 are on par or above this time period in 2016. That means you shouldn't wait to book if you want to take a cruise this year, or even in 2018.
It looks as if 2017 will be a very good year for the cruise industry. Nearly 87 percent of travel agents who are part of the Travel Leaders Group network report that, so far, 2017 cruise bookings are equal to or higher than 2016 bookings for the same period. “Cruise bookings for 2017 have been on the upswing since last year. … In fact, our latest data show a 10 percent increase in year-over-year revenue for luxury cruise bookings, and premium cruise bookings are trending higher by eight percent,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.
What does that mean for you? Don’t wait any longer to book your summer cruise because you may not find the dates, voyages and cabin categories you want. Consider reserving cabins soon for 2018 cruises, especially for voyages aboard the smaller ships employed by upscale lines Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal and Azamara. We found that in February, the smaller ships — those with fewer than 1,000 passengers — had limited availability, especially on popular itineraries.
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Top 2017 Cruise Itineraries according to Travel Leaders Group
The Travel Leaders Group surveyed 1,062 travel agents who specialize in cruising. Many of the top 10 destinations being booked remain close to the U.S. or sail passengers to U.S. ports, a trend predicted by CLIA based on its assessment of U.S. travelers’ concern about terrorism abroad.
“The allure of a Caribbean cruise is undeniable for millions of Americans. However, what’s truly impressive is the tremendous growth, over the past 24 months, in Alaska cruises. Consumer demand has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said John Lovell, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.
1. Caribbean — Western
3. Caribbean — Eastern
4. Europe — River Cruise
5. Europe — Mediterranean
6. Caribbean — Southern
7. Panama Canal
8. Mexican Riviera and Hawaii (tied for 8th)
10. Europe — Baltic
Click to the next page for the most popular Mediterranean cruise itineraries
Despite Americans’ uncertainty about traveling in Europe, it’s interesting to note that three of the top 10 cruise destinations booked by Travel Leaders’ agents are in Europe. Some 84.5 percent of the travel agents polled indicated that their 2017 Mediterranean bookings were even or higher than the same period in 2016.
Popular Mediterranean Cruise Itineraries
1. Barcelona to Rome
2. Barcelona roundtrip
3. Rome roundtrip
4. Rome to Barcelona
5. Rome to Venice
European River Cruises
Of 1,689 U.S. based Travel Leaders’ agents surveyed, 78.2 percent indicated that their 2017 European river cruise bookings were even or higher than the same period in 2016. Despite the launch of new river ships, cabins for river cruises book fast, especially since river vessels carry 100 to 150+ passengers, far fewer than the passengers on small ocean vessels. Consider booking soon for 2018 sailings on popular river itineraries and lines.
Discover more Dentist’s Money Digest lifestyle coverage here. Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips