The proportion of cruisers booking their holiday online has jumped by 20% in the past year, new research shows.
The study by travel and entertainment deals site Travelzoo found that more than a third of people (38%) now book their cruise holidays on the internet, in a sector that has traditionally been led by travel agent sales.
The research found that 78% go online to plan their cruise but also access some offline information when choosing their cruise, while 6% of people do their research exclusively online.
The most important factors in deciding whether to book a cruise are the itinerary (27%) and price (26%), with a quarter of the 1,400 people polled having taken their first cruise only because they found a good deal.
The reputation of the cruise line is also becoming more important as cruising increases its market share, with 17% citing it as the most important factor in deciding what to book – a 44% increase year on year.
But the industry still needs to address the perception that it is expensive. Price was cited as the greatest barrier to cruising, with 30% of respondents listing prohibitive cost as a reason for not considering a cruise holiday.
Despite this, UK consumers are willing to spend a significant amount on a cruise if they believe it represents value for money, with 68% spending more than £900 per person and 25% spending over £1,500.
The research found that 19% of ‘cruise virgins’ are likely or very likely to cruise over the next year and only 11% of the total said they felt cruising was not for their age group.
Travelzoo UK managing director Joel Brandon-Bravo said: “The increasing influence of the internet and brand reputation in the cruiser’s decision-making process demonstrates that putting in place a strong online marketing and PR strategy should be a priority for cruise operators and agents.
“It is clear that cruising is no longer a niche holiday option for UK consumers, but more still needs to be done to highlight the exceptional value for money that a cruise holiday offers.”