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2011 Cruise Trends: Europe Or Alaska?
The long, sunlit days and evenings that warm Alaska from late spring to early fall have long been reason for cruisers to set their sights on an Alaska cruise. And at Cruise Holidays, it’s a firmly held belief that everyone should experience the grandeur of Alaska at least once in their lifetime. But interestingly enough, the popularity of European cruises are giving Alaska a run for its money, at least this summer.
Mediterranean cruises are coming on strong as the second most popular cruises to book in 2011, only behind the Caribbean. While Alaska will continue to remain extremely popular, it begs the question as to why there is such a surge in interest for The Med.
Europe’s allure may be based on its exceptional value right now. It is seen as one of the top cruise values around the globe, according to research done by the overall Cruise Holidays network. Additionally, who can argue with it as a destination?
"Repeat cruisers are especially drawn to Europe,” said Mark Schiffner, vice president and COO of Cruise Holidays. "First timers may choose the Caribbean based on its proximity to North America. Once they experience the value, including the convenience, the chance to visit several destinations and all the amenities of the ship, they are much more comfortable going to Europe. Barcelona and Rome are particularly popular choices as cruise destinations – not only when compared to other European cities but as top cruise destinations around the globe,” added Schiffner.
Working with a cruise consultant also adds to the value of planning cruises. According to the Cruise Holidays 2011 Cruise Trends survey, while price is important, the right itinerary actually ranks as the highest determining factor in choosing a specific cruise. "For that reason, our clients value our experts’ opinions on which destinations they may want to include. You could sift through hundreds and hundreds of novice opinions on the Internet, which we certainly recognize does happen, but when it comes to making the final decision our clients feel safest making the booking through a real person,” added Schiffner.
Although cruise values are anticipated to remain strong throughout 2011, Cruise Holidays experts also noted the booking window (time between cruise is booked and when the ship sails) began to increase in 2010. The percentage of people who booked their 2010 cruise more than six months prior to the cruise increased to 48.5%, compared to only 40.5% in 2009. "The lesson here is simple,” commented Schiffner. "We advise booking early so you get the choice of itinerary, ship and accommodations that you desire.”