Florida cruise bookings swell 20 percent


Cruise ships are a familiar sight at Port Canaveral, looming on the horizon low and large as you cross over the Banana River.

Expect to see more, because it’s already been a good year for Florida’s cruise industry. In fact, Florida bookings increased 20 percent so far in 2017 compared to the same period last year, AAA said in a release.

That bodes well for the world’s second-busiest cruise port in multi-day embarkations.

The surge of bookings is due to a release of pent-up demand from 2016, AAA said. “It seems people’s minds have re-set” and travelers feel comfortable stretching their sea legs.

Thirty-six cruise ships broke the waters of Port Canaveral during fiscal-year 2016, according to the port. Total revenue from cruise operations increased about 10 percent year-over-year with a 2.5 percent uptick in passengers. Revenue from parking increased about 2 percent.

The top cruise destinations in 2017 based on AAA rankings are Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada/New England and Australia/New Zealand, in order of popularity.

Nearly 30 percent of Florida travelers surveyed by AAA said they plan to take an ocean cruise in 2017.

More than 25 million people will board an ocean liner worldwide at an increase of 4.5 percent from last year, according to the Cruise Line International Association.

Vicky Evans, assistant vice president of travel sales development at AAA, said the cruise industry is in a constant state of change trying to entice cruisers.

"Every year, cruise lines unveil new ships that are bigger and better than their predecessors. Some of the newest ships offer onboard activities like bumper cars, skydiving, ice skating, and rock climbing,” Evans said in a release. “So there really is something for everyone, and you do not have to leave the ship to find it."