Posts Tagged ‘Cruise’

Americans Are On Board for River Cruising

August 18th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Julie HallAAA survey, bookings reveal strong traveler interest in river cruising, including among millennials

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 18, 2016) – While only a small portion of the population has boarded a ship to cruise along rivers in the United States, Europe or Asia, consumer interest in river cruising is growing exponentially. According to a new AAA survey, 14 percent of Americans have enjoyed a river cruise, but approximately four in 10 would consider river cruising for an upcoming vacation. Following this trend, AAA’s river cruise bookings have increased more than 16 percent in just the last year.

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Despite the perception that river cruising appeals primarily to older generations, millennials respond more strongly to several key attributes of river cruising than members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. The younger generation is less likely to have taken a river cruise vacation (11 percent), but they are more likely to consider one for an upcoming vacation (42 percent internationally; 45 percent domestically) than either Generation X or Baby Boomers.

“River cruising offers travelers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the heart of multiple destinations in comfort and luxury,” said Bryan Shilling, managing director of AAA Travel Products and Services. “It also provides an intimate view into the culture and history of some of the world’s top destinations. Millennials tend to place great value on experiential travel opportunities and are looking to river cruising as an increasingly viable option for their future vacations.”

Overall, one in four Americans say they are very likely or likely to take a river cruise vacation in the U.S. or internationally in the next five years. River cruising tends to encourage repeat visitation with nearly half (48 percent) of past river cruisers reporting that they are likely or very likely to take a river cruise vacation again in the next five years.

Fifty-four percent of adults in the U.S. feel the all-inclusive experience focused on the journey, not just the destination, is the top benefit of river cruising. Other attributes that are similarly appealing include the ability to visit unique destinations not accessible by larger cruise ships (cited by 50 percent of survey respondents), the opportunity for an authentic travel experience (48 percent) and the convenience of docking right in the heart of a city or town (48 percent).

Travelers considering a river cruise vacation should consult with a travel agent to explore the various options and special offers that are available. For example, AAA members who book a 2017 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection sailing with a AAA credit card in August or September can receive additional savings. Members can also enjoy added amenities on select river cruise departures as part of AAA Vacations, a collection of unique, engaging travel experiences designed specifically for AAA members.

To evaluate consumer river cruise travel intentions and perceptions, AAA contracted with a national research company to perform a telephone survey of 1,012 adults living in the continental United States. Survey results are an accurate representation of the total continental U.S. population with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted June 23-26, 2016.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Julie Hall

2015 marks the most Independence Day travelers since 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 25, 2015) – AAA projects 41.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day, the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase from the 41.6 million people who traveled last year. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 1 to Sunday, July 5.

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“This Independence Day, more people will get in their cars, board airplanes, and take buses, trains and cruise ships to celebrate our nation’s freedom with friends and family,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President. “Students all across the nation are also celebrating freedom from homework, making this an ideal time for a family vacation. Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday for this reason, and more Americans are planning a holiday getaway than any year since 2007.”

Rising income, driven by a strong employment market, is prompting more Americans to take a holiday trip this year. Despite recent seasonal increases, gas prices remain well below year-ago levels, which has helped boost Americans’ disposable income.

“Although some consumers are using their recent savings on gas to pay down debt and save, overall, Americans are planning to travel in record numbers,” continued Doney. “Independence Day gas prices are expected to be the lowest in at least five years, a welcome sign for the 35.5 million people planning a holiday road trip.”

All-American road trips remain popular for Independence Day

Nearly 85 percent of travelers (35.5 million) will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 0.7 percent. Holiday air travel is expected to increase 1.5 percent to 3.21 million leisure travelers. Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 0.5 percent this Independence Day, to 3.2 million.

Lowest Independence Day gas prices in at least five years expected

Despite recent seasonal increases in the price of gas, travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower prices compared to recent years. Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices in at least five years. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.78, 88 cents less than the average price on Independence Day last year. Drivers can use the AAA Mobile app to find the lowest gas prices close to home and along the way to their holiday destinations. Travelers can also plan routes and fun stops for the whole family at AAA.com using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner; members can save and share customized routes for use on a smartphone, tablet or with the AAA Mobile app.

AAA to rescue travelers stalled by a breakdown

AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance when needed.

Holiday travel expenses on the rise

Travelers will encounter moderately higher lodging rates and airfares this Independence Day.  According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is six percent higher this year at $145, while Three Diamond hotels will cost nine percent more, averaging $195. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are six percent higher this Independence Day, climbing to $227.

Download the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway

Before setting out on an Independence Day getaway, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2015 Independence Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

Julie HallAmericans planning vacations to Europe, warm-weather destinations

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ORLANDO, Fla. (June 18, 2015) – This summer is an ideal time to travel to Europe as the U.S. dollar is nearly equal in value to the euro, helping travelers stretch their vacation budgets further. In addition to warm-weather destinations across the U.S. and Caribbean, European cities including Rome, Dublin and Paris are among AAA’s top vacation destinations this summer. According to the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, the number of Americans traveling to Europe so far in 2015 has increased 2.4 percent over last year.

AAA’s top international summer destinations are:

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  3. London, England
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  6. Dublin, Ireland
  7. Paris, France
  8. Vancouver, British Columbia
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Domestic travelers are seeking sun destinations this summer, and many are planning vacations to Orlando and beaches throughout the U.S. AAA’s top domestic summer travel destinations, based on AAA.com hotel bookings, are:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Miami, Fla.
  3. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Tampa, Fla.
  6. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  7. Los Angeles, Calif.
  8. South Padre Island, Tex.
  9. San Diego, Calif.
  10. Branson, Mo.

 

“Now is an excellent time for travelers to plan and book their dream vacations to Europe, as favorable exchange rates make popular European destinations more affordable than in recent years,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing. “After a harsh winter, Americans are also heading to warm weather destinations to enjoy the theme parks of Orlando and beach destinations across the U.S. and Caribbean.”

This summer, many travelers are choosing AAA Vacations for trips to Europe, as well as destinations across the world. This collection of specially designed cruises, guided tours and independent vacations feature unique, engaging travel experiences. Each itinerary is designed with the AAA member in mind and includes built-in value along with exclusive member benefits such as 24/7 Member Care and Best Price Guarantee. AAA Vacations can be booked at more than 1,000 AAA Travel offices.

To maximize a summer vacation, AAA recommends travelers seek the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. Also, download the AAA Mobile app for easy access to hotels and car rentals, maps and routing tools, trip planning resources from AAA travel experts, current gas prices, exclusive member discounts and more.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

JulieHallSurvey shows Americans appreciate the knowledge, expertise and value travel agents offer

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 23, 2014) – According to a recent survey by AAA, a majority of Americans see value in using a travel agent. Eighty-five percent of Americans find travel agents provide cost-effective, trouble-free, personalized vacation planning.

“Travelers see great value in working with an agent,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “They enjoy working with travel agents, who can save them time, money and the frustration of navigating the many complex travel offerings that are available today.”

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The most frequent benefits travelers cited when using the services of an agent were:

Travel agents are a knowledgeable resource, providing a great vacation experience

Planning a vacation that is fun for all can be daunting. An experienced and knowledgeable travel agent can provide recommendations to clients based on their interests and expectations, whether that’s a family-friendly vacation, a stay at an all-inclusive resort, a memorable honeymoon, or a first-time cruise. Travelers who work with the same agent repeatedly also enjoy a familiarity that makes it even easier to select a destination or cruise to match their travel tastes.

Travel agents know the best deals, saving their clients money

Travel agents work with cruise lines, hotels and tour operators every day and often have access to special rates and added benefits that are not available elsewhere. They can provide clients information on values and savings during certain times of the year—for example when a cruise line is offering extra incentives to sail to a destination, special offers for residents or military personnel, or special promotions for kids to travel, eat or stay free.

Travel agents make reservations and bookings, saving time

Selecting the right destination, hotel, cruise line or theme park is a time-consuming task. A qualified travel agent can take care of all the arrangements and stay on top of every detail, saving travelers time to focus on other priorities.

Travel agents can help if something goes wrong, providing peace of mind

Perhaps one of the greatest values in working with a travel agent is the peace of mind they offer when something goes wrong on a vacation. If flights are suddenly cancelled, a hotel doesn’t meet travelers’ standards, or a hurricane hits a key tourist destination, travelers who booked their trip through a travel agent can make a call to their agent, who can make alternate arrangements immediately.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Cruising remains an attractive vacation option for millions of North Americans      

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 31, 2012) – AAA Travel cruise experts say cruising remains a popular choice for North American vacationers.  More than 16 million cruise passengers sailed the world’s waterways last year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and a passenger total in excess of 17 million is forecast for 2012. 

While most AAA Travel cruise passengers remain loyal to cruising, the Costa Concordia tragedy has sparked debate about cruise safety in some industry and public sectors.   

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), an agency of the United Nations, mandates global regulations for the safety and operation of cruise ships.  The most important of these is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which includes comprehensive information on safety equipment and procedures.  To help ensure the safety and security of cruise line passengers, AAA recommends all cruise lines meet the industry standards included in the SOLAS treaty.  

“There is value in having reasoned dialogue to examine whether current maritime laws governing the cruise industry are sufficient or should be modified,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services.  “Meanwhile, cruising remains an attractive vacation option for millions of North Americans each year.”      

In the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard has the responsibility for ensuring that ships embarking passengers in U.S. ports meet all international conventions and domestic requirements for safety, security and environmental protection. It conducts announced and unannounced safety inspections for every cruise ship that embarks passengers in U.S. ports. More than 10 million people boarded cruise ships in the United States last year.

AAA Travel experts offer cruise passengers five important safety tips:

  • All cruise passengers, even seasoned cruisers, should actively participate in and pay full attention during the ship’s muster drills as evacuation procedures vary by cruise line.  Currently, ships are required to hold safety drills within 24 hours of boarding new passengers. If the ship’s emergency muster drill is not scheduled prior to departure from the embarkation port, take personal responsibility for safety by locating life vests and identifying assigned muster stations.   
  • Register all international travel with the U.S. Department of State’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travelregistration.state.govThis will enable the State Department to provide better assistance in an emergency.
  • Travel with a small waterproof pack that can be easily secured around the body in the event of an evacuation. The pack should include, passports, cash including local currency, credit card, medications, small flashlight, cell phone, nutrition bars, and a bottle of water if possible. Prepare the pack upon boarding the ship so it is immediately accessible in the event of an emergency. 
  • Don’t let common sense take a vacation.  Avoid participation in risky behaviors like excessive consumption of alcohol and admitting strangers to your cabin, and report any concerns to ship security.  Personal safety is a consideration while on a cruise vacation, just like it is while at home or when traveling on land.   
  • Book all cruise vacations through a trusted travel counselor.  In the days following an emergency, the travel counselor can be a trusted ally providing critical, timely and valuable assistance. A travel counselor can provide guidance to customers already booked on future cruises that may be affected by the original cruise ship emergency   

February through March sees the highest demand among consumers for purchasing cruise vacations to sail to top summer cruise destinations like Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe as well as cruises throughout the world for the remainder of the year. Prospective cruise passengers should book early and take advantage of special buying incentives to secure their first choice of ship, itinerary, cabin location, and sailing date.  

AAA is committed to providing members with everything needed to plan the best cruise vacation.  AAA Vacations® – a customized collection of cruise and tour packages designed to provide AAA members with unique, exclusive and engaging experiences – is an exclusive product of AAA Travel.  For the nearest AAA Travel location or for more information visit AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Orlando, Fla.,  September 30, 2009

Ships and itineraries now fit every budget and age group as industry broadens its appeal. 

Those who have never taken a cruise vacation, as well as those who have made numerous sailings, should take a look at what cruise ship operators have just over the horizon, AAA travel agents say.

New ships, upgraded amenities, flexible dining options, and innovative shipboard entertainment are just some of what the industry is doing to make cruising even more fun and entertaining in the new year. Innovative shore excursions and multi-million dollar enhancements to private island resorts will be waiting for passengers aboard some ships, and even the sometimes frustrating boarding process is being streamlined by at least one operator.

“It is common knowledge that cruise lines have been discounting berths this year to attract budget-minded travelers,” said Amy Nicholas, managing director, AAA Travel Services. “What is not so widely-known, is that despite the soft economy the industry has continued to invest in an ever- more attractive vacation experience for the upcoming cruise season.”

World’s Largest Cruise Night virtual travel show

AAA will conduct the World’s Largest Cruise Night virtual travel show on Wednesday, October 14.

During the free online event consumers can explore cruise vacation options with AAA’s preferred cruise partners, take advantage of special offers and promotions, interact with fellow cruise enthusiasts and travel experts, and view live webcasts. The AAA virtual travel show times are from 6:00 pm to midnight, Eastern; 5:00 pm to 11 pm, Central; 4:00 pm to 10 pm, Mountain; 3:00 pm to 9 pm, Pacific. To register go to: www.aaa.com/virtualshows .

AAA operates the largest leisure travel agency network in North America and has unique relationships with the world’s most trusted cruise and travel providers, allowing AAA to offer exclusive packages with deals and perks not available elsewhere. AAA travel agency services are available to both members and non-members, although members enjoy access to special incentives and rewards.

Top innovations in cruising

AAA’s favorite examples of what the cruising industry is unpacking for late 2009 and 2010 are:

1) Six new ships will be launched this year and next: Launched in 2009 are the Carnival Dream (3,652 passengers); Celebrity Equinox (2,850 passengers); and the largest cruise ship yet commissioned, Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas (5,400 passengers). Next year will see the launch of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth (2,092 passengers), the Celebrity Eclipse (2,850 passengers), and Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (5,400 passengers).

2) Upgrading amenities on private islands: Disney’s Cruise Line’s private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay, will have a larger beach, private cabanas, and new water play areas, including a 2,400 square feet water slide platform featuring a 140-foot open slide and an enclosed cork-screw slide. New restaurants and a beach bar are being added. Holland America Line added a pirate-themed play area with two pirate ships on Half Moon Cay. Carnival Cruise line placed a Flowrider surfing simulator in Grand Turk and private, air-conditioned cabanas are available on Princess Cruises’ Princess Cay.

3) Flexible dining: By February, Celebrity Cruises’ fleet (except for Celebrity Xpedition) will offer a flexible dining option that lets passengers reserve when they want to eat dinner on every day of their cruise, before they set sail. Called the Celebrity Select Dining Program, the innovation is intended to avoid some of the long lines associated with flexible dining plans that typically allow passengers to show up without a reservation during specific hours.

4) Around-the-world cruising: Holland America Line’s flagship ms Amsterdam will depart from Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2009 for a 128 day Grand-Holiday-and-World Voyage making 45 port calls to some of world’s most remote and exotic destinations, including a transit of the Panama Canal, and visits to Mexico, South America, Africa, India, the Far East and scenic cruising in Antarctica.

5) A look below deck: Carnival has created “Behind the Fun”, a tour to see the inner-workings of a Carnival “Fun Ship”. The guided tours give guests a unique behind-the-scenes look at shipboard operations.

6) Floating fine art gallery: Celebrity Cruises is presenting a permanent, seagoing collection of museum-quality contemporary art aboard the Celebrity Equinox with the “Essence of Equinox”, a collection of nearly 500 original works. The newly-commissioned ship began sailing the Mediterranean this summer.

7) Easier air connections: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced a new air purchase service called “ChoiceAir”. Customers of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises can now choose specific airlines and flight times while shopping for the best published fares. This will allow passengers to know their airline itinerary as soon as they book and have the cruise lines air support team available before, during and after the cruise. Users pay a $15 fee per person for domestic flights and $25 per person for international air.

8) Pocketbook protection: Several cruise lines, including Carnival, have added job-loss coverage to their cruise protection plans. Besides the standard trip cancelation coverage, the plans typically provide for reimbursement up to the total cost of the cruise if you lose your job.

The cruise industry is a major player in the American economy contributing an estimated $19 billion in spending by ship lines and their customers in 2008, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Adding indirect spending, which includes expenditures of cruise line vendors and businesses that provide services to passengers and crew, the total estimated impact in the U.S. was $40.2 billion last year.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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