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Navigating the Waters as Cruise Season Begins

More Americans are heading out to sea in 2023

Cruise by Roderick Eime
Photo copyright Roderick Eime

After nearly three years of challenges and uncertainty, cruise lines are gearing up for a strong year with travel demand rising and Americans eager to set sail. A new AAA survey finds 52% of U.S. adults are just as likely or more likely to consider taking a cruise vacation than they were before to the pandemic. That number is up from 45% one year ago.

"More Americans are making the decision to take that dream cruise and many cruise companies even set new booking records on Black Friday," says Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “Whether it’s to a tropical destination or multiple European ports, we expect a lot more people to make the decision to cruise in 2023.”

Contemporary, family-friendly, and luxury cruises top the list of most popular ships among people who are likely to go on a cruise this year, according to AAA's survey. But smaller, more intimate ships are gaining popularity, like river cruises which offer personalized itineraries and port-centric experiences.

Top Cruise Destinations for 2023

  1. Alaska
  2. Hawaii
  3. Mexico
  4. Central America
  5. Caribbean
  6. Bermuda
  7. Mediterranean
  8. European River Cruises
  9. Northern Europe/Scandinavia
  10. India

5 Mistakes People Make When Booking Cruises

Forgoing a travel advisor and travel insurance. Travel advisors are experts who can help select the cruise line, ship and itinerary that best fits budgets and interests. They have access to the same pricing as booking through a cruise line directly but can provide additional savings, onboard credit, complimentary gratuities and other amenities. Travel insurance provides peace of mind if plans change. Without it, travelers could be on the hook for 100% of the cost of a trip if a cancellation becomes necessary.

Delaying booking in hopes of getting a deal. Cruises can be booked as far as two years in advance. Waiting too long can result in the desired cruise or stateroom category being sold out. With lower stateroom inventory as the sailing date approaches, many cruise lines increase prices closer to the sailing date.

Waiting to book shore excursions or onboard dining and shows. Putting off booking a shore excursion is risky because the most popular tours may be sold out by boarding time. The same goes for certain restaurants or shows. Often, cruise lines will offer lower prices for shore excursions booked in advance.

Flying in on the day of sailing. Unforeseen issues can occur if travelers cut it too close by arriving the day of sailing. Fly in a day early and enjoy a relaxing evening at the port of embarkation before setting sail.

5 Biggest Myths about Cruising

It will be boring. From basketball and pickleball to rock climbing walls and surfing simulators, large ships have amenities galore. At night, there are Broadway-style shows, solo acts, movies, casinos and nightclubs. Expedition cruises are all about the destination and focus on the great outdoors. For travelers looking to take in the sights and sounds of a breathtaking city, European river cruises offer port-centric activities that immerse passengers in the local culture.

Fear of getting seasick. Cruise ships have stabilizers to minimize the ship's motion as much as possible.

The only activities on a cruise are eating and drinking. It's no secret that cruises are known for buffets, room service, all-day pizza bars and burgers by the pool. But there are plenty of other things to do, like hanging out at the pool, going on offshore excursions, watching live entertainment, taking a fitness class or enjoying spa services.

Cruise ships are only for older crowds. Today's cruises are popular with people of all ages and offer a fantastic vacation for families, groups of friends and honeymooners. Kids have their own dedicated space and activities to keep them entertained, while young adults can take advantage of endless sports and activities onboard. Adults can enjoy wine tasting or spa treatment, and all ships offer quiet corners for reading, relaxing and even napping.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted December 2-4, 2022, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online. Consumers without internet access were surveyed over the phone.

A total of 1,070 interviews were completed among U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 70 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  News releases are available at  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


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AAA East Central is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.