According to travel agents polled by CIN in the major markets, demand for Europe, especially the Mediterranean, is low, Alaska a little soft, and the Panama Canal mostly off, while North Cape and Russia cruises are extremely popular this summer.
The lack of interest for Europe was no surprise to agents selling to the mass market, where Europe is expensive in general and particularly so this year with the weakened U.S. dollar. Agents with upscale clients were disappointed, however.
"My expectations were not lived up to in the Med. It was softer than I thought - Europe in general was softer," said a Westchester County, New York cruise-only agent, adding that some of the lines, including Princess Cruises and Sun Line Cruises, may fill ships, but with many Europeans booked through their European marketing arms.
North Cape and Russia In
"Maybe next year the Med will return to its glory years," said Debbie Adams, President of Nacoa. Speaking for her organization's members around the country, she said they have experienced "wakening interest in the Western Mediterranean," but not enough to constitute a comeback. But cruises to Scandinavia and Russia are doing very well, according to Adams, who says she can't find space for clients.
A Los Angeles-area agent said her agency sold over $200,000 worth of North Cape and Russia cruises, but very few Mediterranean. "We are not pushing it. We did not spend a lot of marketing dollars to book the Med because there was a good chance people would still want to avoid the area," she said.
"Anything's better than last year," said a Miami agent about the meager Mediterranean bookings generated by her agency this year. She did say Scandinavia and Russia cruises were "hot" and that she has never seen so much interest in Russia. "Maybe Gorbachev's visit and this glasnost make it look more inviting for Americans," she said.
"Anything with Russia in it is selling big. Russia's the in thing," said an agent at a New York City agency on Fifth Avenue.