Today, Cruise Holidays released more findings from its authoritative 2008 Cruise Holidays Travel Trends Survey.  Experts revealed that Dubrovnik is truly a “hidden gem” on cruise line itineraries and consider it the most underrated European port of call; while precise booking data shows 12-day Mediterranean, 7-day Alaska and 5-day Western Caribbean cruises are the top “long,” “mid,” and “short” itineraries for 2008. The survey tracked actual bookings of Cruise Holidays stores in the U.S. and Canada, made through December 31, 2007, with a sail date in 2008; also included is supplemental information provided by Cruise Holidays’ franchise owners and frontline agents.

“Our Europe bookings are up 42% year-over-year and CLIA* stated recently that the Mediterranean is one of the three fastest growing segments in the cruise industry.  By gleaning information from true cruise industry experts, like our Cruise Holidays experts, on the most underrated European port of call or the top Mediterranean shore excursions, we are really trying to educate consumers and give them the best cruise vacation experience possible,” said Peter D. Thomson, vice president and COO of Cruise Holidays. “Consumers may really enjoy a Mediterranean cruise, but a private guided tour of the Vatican, exploring the stunning ruins of Ephesus, or – as one of our experts suggested – kayaking in Dubrovnik can turn a great vacation into an unforgettable experience.”

The following information is based on actual bookings made through December 31, 2007, with a sail date in 2008, by Cruise Holidays stores in the U.S. and Canada:

Top “short” itinerary: 1-5 days (Booked through 12/31/07 with a sail date of 2008)
1.  5-Day Western Caribbean     25.1%
2.  4-Day Bahamas                   12.7%
3.  3-Day Mexican Riviera          11.0%
4.  5-Day Bermuda                    10.5%
5.  4-Day Western Caribbean     10.4%

Top “mid-length” itinerary: 6-8 days (Booked through 12/31/07 with a sail date of 2008)
1.  7-Day Alaska                       22.0%
2.  7-Day Western Caribbean     21.0%
3.  7-Day Eastern Caribbean      16.2%
4.  7-Day Southern Caribbean    9.4%
5.  7-Day Mexican Riviera           8.0%

Top “long” itinerary: 9 days or more (Booked through 12/31/07 with a sail date of 2008)
1.  12-Day Mediterranean          11.9%
2.  10-Day Southern Caribbean  4.0%
3.  10-Day Eastern Caribbean    3.3%
4.  9-Day Eastern Caribbean      3.1%
5.  11-Day Alaska                     3.0%

The following data is based on a supplemental part of the 2008 Cruise Holidays Travel Trends Survey in which questions were directly asked of all Cruise Holidays franchise owners and frontline agents.  This information represents 93% of the Cruise Holidays network.

Most Popular Caribbean Island/Port of Call:
                                                2008                2007                 2006
1. St. Thomas                            40.5%               1                      1
2. Grand Cayman                      15.3%               2                      2
3. St. Maarten/St. Martin            12.6%               4                     
4. Cozumel                                7.2%                3                      3
5. (tie) Aruba                             4.5%                4                      4
5. (tie) Jamaica                          4.5%

Most Popular Mediterranean Port:
1. Rome                                   40.2%              
2. Venice                                  28.6%              
3. Barcelona                               8.0%               
4. Santorini                                4.5%
5. (tie) Athens                            3.6%
5. (tie) Istanbul                          3.6%

Most Popular Europe (non-MED) Port:
1. St Petersburg                                    55.9%
2. London                                             12.7%
3. Copenhagen                                      4.9%
4. Amsterdam                                       3.9%
5. (tie) Dublin                                        2.0%
5. (tie) Lisbon                                        2.0%

Cruise Holidays experts list which European port of call is most underrated:
1. Dubrovnik/Croatia                                               32.1%
2. British Isles (Dover, Dublin/Ireland, Scotland)        17.0%
3. (tie) Malta, Italy                                                    5.7%
3. (tie) Barcelona, Spain                                            5.7%

Asking Cruise Holidays experts about the top three Mediterranean shore excursions they would recommend elicited a wealth of information.  Far and away, excursions in Italy were the most popular – those responses accounted for 55.3% of the recommended Mediterranean shore excursions. Greece followed with 12.8% and various excursions in Turkey combined for 9.9% of the responses.

When looking at the excursions individually, the Vatican and Rome were the most popular, followed by Pompeii.  Our experts recommended private, guided tours of the Vatican to avoid the extremely long lines. The singular most popular Mediterranean shore excursion outside of Italy would be the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey.

Top Recommended Mediterranean Shore Excursions:
1. Vatican                                 11.70%             Private, guided tour                   
2. Rome                                    11.35%            City sights tour             
3. Pompeii                                 8.16%              Tour of excavated ruins
4. Ephesus                                 7.09%              Lesser known, but spectacular ruins
5. Florence                                 6.03%              Private shopping assistant         
6. Venice                                   5.32%              Gondola ride and tour of Murano glass factory
7. Vineyards / Wine Tasting         4.26%              Barcelona, Tuscany, France, etc.
8. Amalfi Coast                          3.90%               Private car, drive along the coast
9. Barcelona                              3.55%               Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi
10. Athens                                 3.19%               Acropolis and the Corinth Canal

Top Reasons for European River Cruises:
1. More intimate experience in each port of call               75.93%
2. More inland scenery and sights                                  75.00%
3. Smaller ship                                                             64.81%
4. Castles                                                                    37.96%
5. Shopping                                                                  24.07%

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