Alaska Cruises Sail to the Top of Most Booked U.S. Vacations, According To Travel Leaders Group’s Latest Survey

March 14, 2018

Cruising overall, whether it’s to the Caribbean, a European river cruise or a cruise in the Mediterranean, is a popular vacation pick for Americans due to the multiple destinations one can visit, along with the tremendous value and convenience cruises offer.

New survey also shows Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, hold on to top two spots for international travel and the “up and coming” countries for 2018 leisure travel are revealed


New York, NY (March 14, 2018) – Alaska cruises jumped to the top spot from last year’s fifth place to become the most booked domestic vacation for 2018, according to findings from Travel Leaders Group’s authoritative 2018 Travel Trends Survey, released today. Orlando was bumped down a notch to second place. Las VegasMaui and New York City rounded out the Top 5. Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while European river cruises edged up one place to third. Mediterranean cruises and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, were fourth and fifth, respectively.


Top “up and coming” destinations include Iceland, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. Additionally, of the respondents who book travel to the Caribbean, 45.6 percent said their 2018 bookings to the Caribbean are about even with last year, while 13.3 percent said their bookings to the Caribbean are higher. When it comes to Caribbean cruises, 71.7 percent said these bookings are either higher than or equal to last year’s bookings.


“It is important to note that interest in the Caribbean, whether it is a cruise or land-based travel, remains high,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “Cruising overall, whether it’s to the Caribbean, a European river cruise or a cruise in the Mediterranean, is a popular vacation pick for Americans due to the multiple destinations one can visit, along with the tremendous value and convenience cruises offer.”


Alaska cruises have been among the top 10 domestic trips booked by Travel Leaders Group travel advisors over the last several years, but this is the first year Alaska cruises have reached the number one spot in the annual Travel Trends Survey. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, 1,089,700 passengers cruised in Alaska in 2017 and that number is projected to grow another seven percent to 1,165,500 passengers in 2018.


“Alaska is a truly unique bucket-list destination and more and more people from around the world are discovering its awe-inspiring beauty,” noted Chacko. “Our travel advisors frequently recommend it as a not-to-be-missed travel experience, especially for those interested in vivid scenery, wildlife or expedition travel.


Chacko added, “Also, optimism among Travel Leaders Group agents with respect to their travel business is at the highest level we’ve seen this decade.”


Key findings from Travel Leaders Group’s 2018 Travel Trends Survey include top international and domestic destinations, as well as top Canadian and top “up and coming” destinations.


Top 2018 U.S. and International Destinations:


Rank2018 Top U.S. Destinations Rank ‘17
1Cruise – Alaska47.9%5
2Orlando, FL38.6%1
3Las Vegas, NV35.4%4
4Maui, HI30.9%2
5New York City, NY27.7%3
6Honolulu, HI25.7%6
7Cruise – Hawaii16.5%15
8Miami/Miami Beach, FL15.5%10
9Washington, D.C.14.7%8
10Los Angeles, CA12.9%7


Rank2018 Top International Destinations Rank ‘17
1Cruise – Caribbean34.7%1
2Cancun, Mexico28.3%2
3Cruise – Europe (River)23.1%4
4Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean)17.4%8
5Punta Cana, Dominican Republic17.2%6
6Rome, Italy16.0%5
7London, England15.5%3
8(tie)Amsterdam, The Netherlands12.6%12
8(tie)Montego Bay, Jamaica12.6%9
9Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico11.4%10
10Paris, France11.1%7


Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations:


  • Europe – Up and Coming: Iceland (42.9%), Croatia (17.9%), and Portugal (11.5%).
  • Pacific – Up and Coming: New Zealand (28.7%), Tahiti (13%), and Bora Bora (11.1%).
  • Asia – Up and Coming: Thailand (24.8%), Vietnam (20.8%), and Maldives (15.6%).
  • Central/South America – Up and Coming: Peru (16.7%), Panama (14.6%), and the Galapagos Islands (14.2%).
  • Africa – Up and Coming: Kenya (10.2%), Morocco (6.9%), and Tanzania (6.5%).


When Americans Travel to Canada


Rank2018 Top Canada Destinations
1Vancouver, British Columbia
2Montreal, Quebec
3Toronto, Ontario
4Banff, Alberta
5Calgary, Alberta
6Quebec City, Quebec
7 (tie)Niagara Falls, Ontario
7 (tie)Lake Louise, Alberta
8Halifax, Nova Scotia
9Vancouver Island
10Whistler, British Columbia


2018 Business Outlook:


Based on actual bookings and consumer inquiries, Travel Leaders Group agents weighed in on how optimistic they are for their business in 2018.


What is your personal outlook on your business in 2018?


Neither optimistic nor pessimistic10.0%15.8%13.6%14.2%14.2%16.0% 


Based on actual booking data, Travel Leaders Group’s survey was conducted over two months from December 20, 2017-February 19, 2018, with responses from 1,355 North American-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand and Travel Leaders Group’s All Aboard TravelCruise SpecialistsNexionProtravel InternationalTravel Leaders Corporate, and Tzell Travel Group units.


Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies and is a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel. Travel Leaders Group consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide.


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Travel Leaders Group ( is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients through our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers, Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands, including All Aboard Travel, ALTOUR, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, CruCon, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group. With over 7,000 agency locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest traditional travel agency companies.


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