If you take a cruise vacation, you'll likely get hooked and want to repeat the experience
Warning: If you take a cruise vacation, you'll likely get hooked and want to repeat the experience.
Just ask Jennie Spaulding, 41, of Peoria, Ariz., who with her husband, Jeremy, recently cruised for the first time on a four-day sailing to Mexico.
"It was the best experience and the best vacation ever," Spaulding said. "It was a way to reconnect for me and my husband, which is exactly what we did."
Spaulding is already planning the couple's next cruise vacation and in doing so she's right on trend. First-timer cruisers are very likely to become repeat cruisers, according to independent researchers.
A recent J.D. Power survey found more than 90 percent of those who take a cruise plan to set sail again, with Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Xers particularly enthusiastic about repeating the cruise experience. About the same number of cruisers would recommend a cruise vacation to family and friends.
The number of people experiencing cruise vacations for the first time also is increasing. A 2015 report from the United Nations World Travel Organization (UNWTO) show growth in the cruise market between 2004 and 2014 as percentage-wise the fastest growing segment of the global vacation industry, outpacing land-based vacations by 23 percent. In 2016, nearly 25 million people worldwide are expected to go on a cruise vacation.
Among the many reasons for the popularity is the public's recognition that cruising is affordable, particularly when compared to land-based vacations.
"The big appeal of a cruise vacation is that it offers superb value for your money, whether you travel to Alaska, the Caribbean or even more exotic itineraries," said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of the popular website Cruise Critic. "That's something more and more people are discovering."
For the Spauldings, co-owners of a family heating and air-conditioning, and parents of a teenage daughter with a rare health disorder, affordability was key.
"Money was a little tight for us but we wanted to do something really nice for our 20th wedding anniversary," Spaulding said.
On the advice of a friend she booked the cruise six months in advance so she could make payments. For just over $1,000, including their drinks, the couple set sail for four days on Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Inspiration. They saved on airfare by driving to the ship's homeport of Long Beach, Calif.
While they enjoyed visiting the Mexican port of Ensenada, including the famous La Bufadora (blowhole), the couple spent most of their time on the ship poolside, lounging and enjoying the lively fun at the open-air RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.