Cruise lines are entering 2024 with robust demand, as reported by AAA, following a year of record bookings in 2023.
AAA's Vice President of Travel, Debbie Haas, advises travelers to book quickly due to limited availability for preferred routes, ships, or cabin types.
The industry's "wave season," a prime three-month booking period starting January, offers deals like discounts and cabin upgrades. This surge is a continuation of the significant bookings cruise lines experienced in 2023.
Global cruise passengers were expected to reach 31.5 million in 2023, as forecasted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which includes major cruise lines. Suites and balcony cabins for certain spring and summer voyages have sold out quickly.
AAA highlighted trends such as more weekend and year-round European river cruises, along with competitive Alaskan cruise offerings. Less busy times, like the period between spring break and summer, may offer better availability and rates.
For U.S. travelers, the passport processing time has improved from eight to 11 weeks to just six to eight weeks. The CLIA predicts 36 million ocean cruise travelers this year, indicating recovery from the COVID
-19 pandemic-induced downturn beginning in early 2020.