Fly-cruise represents a quarter of all first-time cruise enquiries but drops off to just 9% of travel agency quotes, according to new research.

This suggests agents are “reticent” to package the different travel components together.

The disclosure came as part of the results of analysis of 8,878 global new-to-cruise enquiries by technology firm Traveltek.

The study found that 81% of enquiries and quotes were for two adults, reflecting how the cruise sector needs to find ways to attract other demographics such as solo travellers and families by offering more flexible cabin pricing and configurations.

First-time cruisers have no preconception of favourite cabins or types, with their decisions being price-led, with 32% enquiring about inside cabins.

“This presents savvy agents with opportunities to use their product knowledge to upsell,” Traveltek said.

Itineraries of between six and nine nights dominated enquiries (35%), quotes (49%) and bookings (46%).
Africa cruise itineraries were high on the list of top ten destinations enquired about by first-time cruisers but did not feature on the top 10 list of destinations quoted.

This suggests either cruise lines are yet to offer many Africa itineraries or if they do, agents are not aware of them.

River cruising is starting to appeal to first-time cruisers, with specialist Riviera Travel featuring in the top ten cruise lines enquired about.

In terms of top river cruise lines booked, Riviera Travel took the top spot followed by Avalon Waterways. The remainder was split between five other river cruise specialists, suggesting these lines feature on the API when others do not.

River cruise lines have a “significant opportunity” to capture the first-time cruiser market and convert enquiries to bookings if they improve their visibility using Traveltek’s API, according to the company.

Senior vice president sales, Francis Riley – former UK boss of Norwegian Cruise Line – said: “Our global survey demonstrates how Traveltek is uniquely positioned to track the behaviour of first-time cruisers, identifying top trends that can help agents and cruise lines capitalise on the potential of this lucrative market and convert more enquiries to bookings.

“It also proves that the technology is now available to curate the cruise products and packages that first-timer cruisers want, making it simpler than ever before for them to purchase fly-cruise, family cruises, river cruises and alternative destinations and itineraries.”