The proportion of cruise bookings made in high-street travel agents is increasing, according to new research by Mintel.

Mintel’s Cruises report discovered that many consumers still find booking a cruise complex and value the expertise of a travel agent.

Figures from Mintel’s Cruises report show that 43% of consumers surveyed booked their cruise through an agent in 2004, with 23% of them visiting the shop.

In 2006, 51% booked a cruise with a travel agent and bookings made in travel agencies had increased to more than 35%.

The survey also showed phone and Internet bookings have declined since 2004.

Mintel questioned about 2,000 consumers this year and collated information from past surveys.

The report also found there had been a decline in cruise bookings made directly through tour operators – from 37.8% in 2004 to 31% last year.

Mintel senior travel analyst Richard Cope said: “Cruise customers may not have the confidence to book themselves and it really is a growth area for agents.

“Despite what the cruise industry is doing to lower the age [of customers], it is still geared towards older people who have more time to go into agencies and want to discuss the booking.”

Carnival and Holland America Line sales and marketing director Lynn Narraway agreed with the findings.

She said: “The majority of customers are not booking through the Internet. People might have done their research online but clients still want the service and knowledge of a travel agent.”

However, Narraway said consumers were still booking direct with operators as business with all Carnival’s partners was up.