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Why the Cruise Industry Is Poised for a Banner Year

A new study found the cruise industry is ready for a bounce back in 2023, as more than half of American respondents said they are just as likely to take a voyage as they were before the pandemic.

According to a AAA Travel survey, 52 percent of adults in the United States are just as likely or more likely to consider taking a cruise vacation than before COVID-19-related restrictions were implemented.


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The number increased from the 45 percent who said the same in last year’s AAA cruise report.

“Cruising is back in a big way. We expect a lot more people to book cruises in 2023 as several new ships have entered the market,” AAA Senior Vice President of Travel Paula Twidale said. “We already saw this in November which proved to be a record-breaking month for cruise bookings. For many cruise companies, Black Friday was the single largest booking day in history.”

The AAA study also found that contemporary, family-friendly and luxury cruises top the list of most popular ships among people likely to go on a cruise this year, but smaller, more intimate vessels are gaining popularity.

“Yes, the cruise industry is poised for a great year,” Scott Lara of TheCruiseGenius.com said. “With many new ships coming online, those of us who have sailed on previous ships are looking for something new and exciting.”

“The key will be for cruise lines to stop increasing the prices for tips and other services,” Lara continued. “If they continue down this path, all-inclusive resorts will win big.”

The survey also found the top cruise domestic and international destinations for 2023, with Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean topping the domestic departure list. Alaska, the Mediterranean and European river cruises topped the international departure list.

“Cruise lines have undertaken extensive measures to promote health and safety onboard, so you can expect attention to detail and cleanliness,” Twidale continued. “In the case of unexpected illness, they have protocols in place to isolate passengers as they recuperate.”

In December, cruise lines reported reaching a record number of bookings during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday commercial holidays, signaling a rise in popularity and demand that often outstrips pre-pandemic levels.

“We have seen a big uptick in requests from new to cruise for both ocean and river ships in addition to those returning to cruising after the pandemic,” Jesse Morris of We Book Travel said. “Many of the conversations have been geared to helping people understand the differences between cruise lines, cabin types and the overall experience on board.”

“That curiosity is a tremendous opportunity for us to use our expertise to gain new clients,” Morris continued. “2022 was a stellar year and based on trends, we expect 2023 to be even better.”

During the CruiseWorld trade show in Fort Lauderdale in November, the overall message was that the cruise industry is looking ahead with optimism – not looking back – now that ships are once again carrying passengers the world over.

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