Two different segments of cruising turn out to have much in common, and both are on a strong growth curve. Results of just completed surveys of travel agent and cruise line members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) tell why.

CLIA member cruise lines specializing in luxury and river cruises say they plan to expand offerings in order to meet rising demand, and attract more customers by focusing on what they want most: new experiences and exotic destinations around the world. The growth is partially aided by changing demographics of passengers; while the primary market for luxury and river cruises is and will continue to be the experienced traveler, the lines report increased numbers of younger guests, in one case a drop in the median passenger age from 60 to 45 in the last ten years. Among the reasons, according to CLIA members, are the increasing popularity of multigenerational and family cruises and marketing aimed at more active, “participative” travelers by both luxury and river cruise lines.

The on-going introduction of new ships will continue to heighten interest and excitement in luxury and river cruising. Between 2010 and 2011, 11 new vessels* will enter these fleets, with likely more on order in the years to come. But CLIA member lines say that destination reigns almost supreme as the key to filling ships in these market segments. Outstanding service and amenity levels are major motivators in the luxury category, but what really excites buyers in both categories is the destination – itineraries featuring new places to discover.

Currently the hottest destination in both categories is Europe and the Mediterranean, followed by new itineraries in the Baltic, Russia and Central Europe, South America, the Middle East and Holy Land, and, in particular, Asia. New exotic, off-the-beaten-path ports in the Caribbean, Europe and such countries as Indonesia, Cambodia, Japan, and India are also fueling interest.