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Cruise vacations becoming more popular in 2017

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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) -- The cruise industry is making waves this year after AAA cruise bookings in Florida increased 20 percent, compared to last year.

"Cruises are already one of the most popular vacations booked through AAA, and this year they are dominating the market," said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA.

More people are forecast to board a cruise this year than ever before. The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) forecasts a record-setting 25.3 million people will board an ocean liner worldwide, which is a 4.5 percent increase from last year. 

"One of the reasons we attribute such a surge in bookings is the result of pent-up demand from 2016, due to health and economic concerns. Now it seems people's minds have reset with the new year and travelers are stretching their sea legs."

In a AAA Consumer Pulse survey of Florida travelers, nearly 3 in 10 plan to take an ocean or large-ship cruise this year, while 5 percent plan to take a river cruise.

"The cruise industry is in a constant state of change, in hopes of attracting first-time and repeat cruisers," Evans said.

Ocean cruises have always been the most popular form of cruising for families and young adults, however AAA travel agents have noted surging demand for river cruising this year. Here are the top ocean cruise destinations:

  1. Europe
  2. Caribbean
  3. Alaska
  4. Canada/New England
  5. Australia/New Zealand

The summer is always a popular season for cruisers and this year is no exception. AAA has also noted strong growth in bookings for the year-end holiday season, which is unusual to see this early in the year.