It looks like smooth sailing ahead for the cruise industry. Not only is consumer interest in cruising at an all-time high, but the ranks of "hot prospects" also have grown substantially, according to a new study conducted for Cruise Lines International Association.
The study says that almost 44 million people believe they will "definitely or probably" take a cruise vacation within the next five years, and that the vast majority see themselves sailing within the next two years.
Among the "hot prospects," the average age has come down (42), as has their income level ($51,500). They are also more likely to have children, and to take them along.
CLIA's figures indicate that cruising, which has grown at a rate of about 10 percent per year since 1970, is the fastest-growing vacation category in North America today.
"Customer satisfaction is one of the key priorities of the cruise industry and one big reason why no other type of vacation comes close in terms of repeat business," said James G. Godsman, president of CLIA. "Eighty-two percent said they were interested in taking another cruise."