In a recent survey of the wealthiest 10% of US households, the American Affluence Research Center found that intentions to cruise during the next 12 months rose to 15% of the affluent, representing about a 25% improvement over the Fall 2010 survey reading (12%).

Other good news for the luxury cruise lines is that plans to cruise during the next 12 months among their primary source markets -- the wealthiest 1% (those with a minimum net worth of $6 million) and the more mature (age 60+) groups -- were at 19% and 17% respectively. About three quarters of the affluent say they expect to spend more or the same for international vacation travel during the next year as they did during the prior 12 months.

At 15% of a population of 11.4 million households, the estimated number of affluent cruise buyers is 1.7 million households or 3.4 million total cruisers over the next 12 months. Ron Kurtz, president of American Affluence Research Center and a former president and chief marketing officer of several cruise lines, noted that “this number of affluent cruisers far exceeds the capacity of the luxury lines and indicates the affluent will continue to be an important source of business for the premium and contemporary cruise lines.”

The Affluent Market Tracking Study #19, published April 15 by the American Affluence Research Center, is based on a national sample of 405 men and women who have an average annual household income of $333,000, an average primary residence value of $1.2 million, an average net worth of $3.1 million, and average investable assets of $1.8 million.