New Study Says First-Time U.S. Cruisers Value Sailings Close to Home, Getting Good Deals

A new study has been released, examining the values and preferences of a coveted audience for the cruise industry: first-time cruisers.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Arrives in Miami

As the cruise industry gathered in Miami Beach this week for Seatrade Cruise Global, three powerhouse travel brands have partnered together to unveil a first-of-its-kind research study examining a coveted audience: first-time cruisers.

Titled From Shore to Ship: Attracting the Next Wave of Cruisers, the U.S. edition of the study was released today by the Cruise Lines International Association in partnership with MMGY Global and Travelzoo. The report arrives as the industry prepares for an increase in ship inventory to satisfy growing worldwide demand.

carnival cruise ships

First-Time Cruisers Study Findings

Key findings of the study include:

  • The perceived value for money of cruising has significantly improved among prospective cruisers. In fact, 60 percent of the respondents said it was a past reason for not booking, whereas only 36 percent cite it as a current concern.
  • Friends and family are overwhelmingly the most influential information sources for potential cruisers when researching travel options (58 percent), while destination websites (34 percent), travel review websites (29 percent) and online travel agencies (29 percent) are the next most popular. 
  • Destinations within close proximity to the United States are the most appealing to new-to-cruise Americans. The Caribbean/Bermuda region is most favored at 63 percent, while Hawaii and Mediterranean destinations followed at 48 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
  • A majority of prospective cruisers are willing to pay more for travel services that demonstrate environmental responsibility, reflecting a growing consumer trend toward sustainable travel choices.
  • When asked what would make cruises more appealing, the top responses are promotions/discounts (52 percent), information on health and safety standards (39 percent), extended time to explore destinations (37 percent) and a variety of destination offerings (36 percent).

In addition to examining the topics above and the general behaviors and preferences of the potential cruisers segment, the study also identified new insights in regard to health and safety, tailored experiences, technology, traveling solo, the role of travel advisors, and more.

The True Bahamas Cruise Cost

A UK edition of this report is scheduled to be released on April 17th. For a closer look at the U.S. findings, visit


What was most important to you cruise-wise when you were a first-time cruiser? Do your cruise values align with the findings of this study? Drop us an anchor below and let us know your thoughts!

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Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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