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AAA Says Cruise Travelers Are Looking for Luxury

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© Seabourn PHOTO: According to AAA Travel, bookings for luxury lines such as Seabourn are soaring. (Photo Courtesy of Seabourn)

By Ana Figueroa, TravelPulse

Cruise travelers are taking a closer look than ever at luxury suites and premium lines. At least, that’s what AAA Travel booking data from the last 12 months reveals.

While mega-ships carrying 5,000 passengers continue to grab headlines, there’s a definite undercurrent at work, as well. Bookings for more intimate voyages on luxury ocean and river cruise lines are on the rise.

AAA Travel says its cruise sales have increased substantially in the past year. But, suite bookings and smaller, luxury line sales have exploded.

“Many cruise ships today are like resorts, holding thousands of passengers and offering countless opportunities for entertainment and places to dine,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Meanwhile, a growing number of travelers is looking for an intimate experience, and they’re turning to smaller, ultra-premium cruises, demonstrating tremendous interest in cruise lines like AmaWaterways, Seabourn, Azamara Club Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and others.”

Current booking trends haven’t gone unnoticed by the mass market ocean lines. Both Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have introduced bigger, feature-laden suites on their newbuilds. Suite guests on several lines now have exclusive access to specialty restaurants, private pools and lounges, private butlers and concierges on board.

“Cruise travelers today are not shying away from paying for premium experiences,” said Sutherland. “Whether opting for an upgraded suite class on a large cruise ship, or increasingly, splurging for all-inclusive luxury on a small riverboat, travelers are seeking special opportunities to elevate their cruise vacation experience.”

AAA Travel also identified some additional cruise trends of note. For example, bookings to Europe and Hawaii are up substantially compared to other destinations. And, Alaskan cruise bookings have started to level off after years of surging interest.

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