Perception of cruise as value for money holiday improves

The perceived value for money of a cruise holiday has significantly improved among potential customers but it is not seen as a fun, family getaway by most, a new survey suggests.

The ‘From Shore to Ship’ poll by MMGY Travel Intelligence, released in association with Clia UK & Ireland and Travelzoo, polled 2,000 prospective cruise holidaymakers, who had never been on a cruise before, in February.

The results were announced as Clia revealed the cruise sector’s success in attracting holidaymakers to cruise for the first time in 2023, when a record 2.3 million Brits in total took a cruise.

More: Saga cruise and tour operations return to annual profit

Lack of value for money and the extra cost of excursions was given as the primary reason historically for not booking a cruise, cited by 67% of those polled in the survey, which was billed as the first research of its kind into potential first-time cruisers.

But when asked about current concerns about booking a cruise, just 38% cited personal financial impediments and only 36% said it was because cruises lacked value for money.

Cees Bosselaar, managing director of MMGY Travel Intelligence, said that while cost remained a barrier to taking a cruise, the figures demonstrated a “significant” improvement in the perceived value of a cruise holiday in recent years.

“Two-thirds of people [now] see a cruise as value for money,” he said, noting that the survey also showed special pricing offers and promotions were key to converting potential cruise customers.

“Not everyone has the money to afford a cruise but they are more interested in taking a cruise. The figures show that if cruise lines post attractive all-inclusive offers they might be able to get that person off the fence and into a ship.”

Travelzoo UK general manager James Clarke stressed “it doesn’t mean if you discount it’s better value”, adding cruises were competing with land-based holidays and would be gauged by consumers alongside hotels in terms of what value they offer.

He suggested promoting the convenience of ex-UK cruising was a “huge opportunity” for cruise lines.

Clia UK & Ireland managing director Andy Harmer said the sector was starting to successfully get the value message across to consumers. He added: “We [the industry] are doing a much better job at talking value and clearly that is resonating with customers.”

The survey also highlighted low perceptions of cruises as a holiday for the family market with first time cruisers tending to see a cruise as a luxury or once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Of those respondents described as ‘top prospects’ and most likely to book a cruise, 31% said they saw cruise as a fun, family getaway.

The figure was even lower for ‘potential cruisers’ at 18%, and was 16% for ‘on the fence’ cruisers and just 6% for ‘reluctant inquirers’ .

“A lot of people do not see cruise as a fun, family getaway, so this is an opportunity [for cruise lines]” said Bosselaar, who pointed out that 28% of those surveyed had children and 26% preferred to travel with their children.

The survey also showed that the destination is the top consideration for prospective cruisers, who also increasingly consider the importance of sustainability in their travel planning, and a “surprisingly strong interest” in cruises by young adults.


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